27 FEBRUARY 2002

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Inflation hits a high

According to statistics released yesterday by the National Statistics Office, last January Malta registered its highest rate of inflation since April 1996. At a rate of 3.27 per cent, the figure breached the three per cent mark for the first time since August 1998.

Meanwhile, the NSO cites January’s retail price index at 118.23 – down by 0.458 per cent, an exercise that monitored all the sections within the retail price index.

The largest fluctuation in RPI was undoubtedly in the clothing and footwear index, which fell by 8.69 per cent. The recorded drops, the NSO explains, were mainly due to seasonal price reductions in women’s and men’s outer clothing, underwear and accessories, girl’s and boy’s clothing, infant’s clothing, clothing material and dry cleaning. Average price drops were also recorded for women’s, men’s and children’s footwear.

The food index declined by 1.18 per cent over the previous month, due to lower average prices for frozen meat, fresh fish and fresh fruit were the main cause for this drop. However, price increases were recorded for fresh meat, preserved fish, cheese, milk, potatoes, fresh vegetables, confectionery and other food items.

An increase of 4.66 per cent was registered in the beverages and tobacco index, following price increases in soft drinks, beer, spirits and cigarettes.

The housing index increased 2.98 per cent, as a result of higher average prices for house maintenance items, house insurance and the maintenance of household goods.

Meanwhile, the fuel, light and power index rose by 5.04 per cent, in view of the total removal of rebates on electricity bills caused this increase.

The transport and communications index contracted 1.02 per cent due to lower air fares, while at the same time, higher average prices were recorded for motor vehicle insurance and car maintenance parts and services.

An increase of 0.38 per cent registered in the personal care and health index was due to higher average prices for toilet requisites and cosmetics and hairdressing and shaving items.

The education, entertainment and recreation index went up by 0.72 per cent, following price increases in books, magazines and periodicals, education and stationery goods, admission to places of entertainment, photographic goods, gardening and related accessories and toys. Average price drops, meanwhile, were recorded in respect of a range of audio-visual equipment and recording media.

Finally, the other goods and services index rose by 0.62 per cent over the previous month. Price increases were recorded in respect of pet food and pet care services, club and union fees and domestic help.

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