04 April 2012

Chamorros in Guahan (Guam) protest land use by U.S. military

         Chamorro activists in peaceful protest

Inflation on St. Maarten soared to 5.2% last year


The consumer price index increased by 2.6 percent in February when compared to that of December 2011. The price index recorded in February is 120.5. When comparing average consumer prices over a twelve month period (Feb. 2011 to Feb. 2012), an increase of 5.2 percent was recorded compared to the same period one year earlier. This is evident from the data released by the Department of Statistics (STAT) on Tuesday. The current inflation represents the highest peak over the past 2-year period; as well as the highest inflation ever recorded over the last 20 years.

Price changes between December 2011 & February 2012
Note that in February 2012, eight of the nine expenditure categories have become more expensive, whilst one became cheaper. Amongst the more expensive were the categories; Food (+1.4%), Clothing and Footwear (+1.0%), Housing (+4.6%), Household Furnishing & Appliances (+1.1%), Medical Care (+0.4%), Transport & Communication (+1.3%), Recreation & Education (+2.2%) and Miscellaneous (+0.8%). Whereas, Beverages and Tobacco (-0.2%) became slightly cheaper.
A Closer Look
The categories with the largest influence in the basket are Food (10%), Housing (39%) and Transport & Communication (20%). In February 2012 the expenditure category Housing impacted the overall index the most with a significant increase (+4.6%) in consumer prices of this category. Even though the expenditure category Recreation & Education has a less significant impact (6%) on the total index, it recorded the second largest price increase (+2.2%) in February relative to December 2011.
Within the expenditure category Food it can be noted that eight of the nine food groups became more expensive. The following increases were recorded in each food group; Grain (+1.2%), Meat and Fish (+2.6%), Fats & Oils (+3.5%), Dairy Products (+1.6%), Sugar & Chocolate (+1.4%), Pre-cooked dishes (+0.4%), Eating-out (+0.4%) and other food resources (+2.6%). Whilst within the food group Potatoes, Vegetables & Fruit a price reduction of 0.9 percent was recorded.
More specifically the following products largely influenced the total price change within the food group: Grains largely influenced by; White Bread (+5.1%) and Brown Bread (+10.6%). The food group Meat & Fish was largely influenced by; Beef (-3.8%), Oxtail (+3.7%), Spare ribs (+9.7%), Ham (+2.6%), other Poultry (+6.3%), Fish (+7.8%), other Fish (+10.7%) and other Shellfish (-16.7%).
The food group Fats & Oils was largely influenced by; Cooking oil (+3.4%). The food group Dairy Products was largely influenced by; Powder Milk (+2.6%), Baby Powder Milk (+8.2%) and Eggs (-6.0%). The food group Potatoes, Vegetables & Fruit was largely influenced by; Potatoes (-7.9%), Leafy Greens (-13.7%), Cabbage (-16.1%), Carrots (+7.4%), Onions & Garlic (-4.2%), Tomatoes (-15.7%), Paprika (+7.4%), other Fresh Vegetables (+17.0%) and Oranges (+13.7%).
Within the expenditure category Housing it can be noted that three of the five product groups became more expensive whilst two remain unchanged. Amongst the more expensive were the product groups Energy expenses (+21.9%), House maintenance (+4.8%) and Garden maintenance (+1.6%). It must be emphasized that the overall increase recorded in this expenditure category is primarily accounted to the increase in Energy Expenses.
More specifically it must be noted that the product Electricity (+26.9%) largely influenced the total price percentage change recorded in the product group Energy Expenses. This significant increase is for the most part linked to the change from a special Christmas rate implemented in December 2011; the overall impact of this product on the consumer budget and total index is approximately 0.05 percent. The product group House maintenance was mostly influenced by the products paint (+14.4%) and roofing material (+7.7%).
Transport and Communication
Within the expenditure category Transport & Communication two of the four product groups became more expensive whilst two remained unchanged. The consumer prices within the product groups Vehicle Purchase and Vehicle Expenses both increased by 3.5 and 1.4 percent respectively. Whilst the consumer prices for Communication and Transport Services remained stable. Even though the overall weights of each of the four product groups within this category are equal, it must be noted that the increase in Vehicle Purchase had the largest impact on the total change. Noteworthy is that the product group Vehicle Expenses was largely influenced by the following products; Gasoline (+3.5%) and Diesel (+1.4%). The 3.6 percent increase in the consumer prices for purchasing a car was the primary influence on the product group Vehicle Purchase.