14 - 20 March 2001

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Inflation hits 13-month low
RPI hits four month low, clothing/ footwear drops 9.4%

Malta's rate of inflation reached a 13-month low in January of this year, according to statistics released by the National Statistics Office.

In fact, barring a particularly good run between February and November last year, January's inflation rate of 2.15 is the second lowest over the last three years.

Meanwhile, the retail price index followed in the footsteps of December's drop of 0.51 per cent, by shedding an additional 0.49 per cent in January to now stand at 112.95 – the lowest RPI since September of last year.

Notably, the price index for clothing and footwear, in January, dropped by 9.4 per cent mainly due to seasonal price reductions.

However, the largest rise in retail price occurred in the housing index, which increased by 2.3 per cent - a rise made possible by rising average prices for home maintenance costs, home insurance and the maintenance of household goods.

Meanwhile, the cost of education, entertainment and recreational consumer goods also rose – by 1.31 per cent. In this area, price increases were recorded in the price of books, magazines and periodicals, education and stationery goods and in respect to the admission prices to places or entertainment.

However lower average prices were recorded in a range of audi-visual equipment and goods, computers and photographic equipment.

The beverages and tobacco index jumped by 2.16 per cent in January – a leap that was mainly due to average price rises in mineral water, soft drinks, beer, local and imported wines and cigarettes.

Transport and communications were also found to have become somewhat more expensive in January and, in fact, saw an increase in price of 1.04 per cent. Higher average prices were noted for new cars, insurance premiums, average labour and spare parts prices for car maintenance average airfare prices.

A slight decrease was registered in the cost of food, which saw a decline of 0.82 per cent – due to lower average prices for potatoes and fresh fruit were responsible for this drop. However, average price increases were noted in the cost of chicken, rabbits, cheese, hot cakes, confectionery and other foods.

Among the more nominal of fluctuations in RPI are the average price drops in respect or floor coverings, household appliances and soft furnishings – responsible for a 0.56 per cent drop in durable household goods index.

Meanwhile, a minimal increase of 0.04 per cent was recorded in the personal care and health index – an increase due to higher average prices for toilet requisites and cosmetics.

Average club and union membership fees and the average hourly charge for domestic help were the main cause for an increase of 0.24 per cent in the ‘other goods index'. Meanwhile, a drop in the average price of clocks, watches and jewellery items was recorded.

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt