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CLICK TO ENLARGEPETALING JAYA: While inflationary pressures seem to have eased based on the latest consumer price index (CPI) figures, economists are not discounting the fact that headline inflation may pick up in the coming quarters.
Speaking with StarBiz, AmBank Research Group chief economist and member of the Economic Action Council Secretariat Anthony Dass attributed the uptick in inflation to external and domestic headwinds.
External headwinds such as escalating geopolitical tensions and trade blocks would likely have an impact on prices. Such events could result in supply disruptions, thus pushing up prices, and could also impact the ringgit where the US dollar becomes more favourable, and hence fuelling imported inflation.
On the domestic side, upside pressure could come from the higher minimum wage, impact from the labour shortage and higher input costs, he added.
AmBank Research Group chief economist and member of the Economic Action Council Secretariat Anthony Dass
Malaysia’s headline inflation rate rose 4.5% year-on-year (y-o-y) in September this year, compared with 4.7% in August.
The increase in the consumer price index (CPI) was less than the 4.6% growth forecast by 16 economists in a recent Reuters poll.,
The faster-than-expected abatement was primarily due to the lower prices of food, non-subsidised fuels and the maintenance and repair of dwellings despite a weaker currency and year-ago low base effects.
The core inflation rate touched its new peak 4% y-o-y in September. And on a sequential month basis, core prices still recorded a growth of 0.3% month-on-month (m-o-m).
Headline inflation, as measured by the CPI, takes into account the whole basket of goods and services produced in a country for a specific period. Core inflation, on the other hand, excludes items such as food and energy (ie, petrol) due to the volatility of their prices.
According to Dass, “Inflationary pressure still remains driven by cost pressures coming from higher freight charges, labour costs, materials and other input costs, as well as the weak ringgit which adds on to the import bill.
“But with the improving global supply chain, freight chargers plus global commodity prices are gradually improving, and that should potentially ease some pressure on the cost side.
“Besides, the mismatch between supply and demand that once added strong pressure on prices is expected to be rebalanced,” he noted.
In addition to the slower global outlook and a moderate domestic economic growth in 2023, plus expectations of a strong ringgit driven by the weaker dollar, all these points to a correction in prices.,