By Louella Desiderio, April 11, 2023; The Philippine Star,from%208.6%20percent%20in%20February.

Manila, Philippines — The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) expects inflation to hit the two to four percent target within the year.

“Hitting the inflation target of two to four percent by the end of the year is within reach,” NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said.

This, as headline inflation, or the rate of increase in the prices of consumer goods and services, continued to slide to 7.6 percent in March from 8.6 percent in February.

The March inflation, however, is higher compared to the four percent print in the same month last year but is the lowest since 6.9 percent in September last year.

Inflation, which was on an uptrend since August last year, eased slightly for the first time in February this year from the 14-year high of 8.7 percent in January.

The downtrend in inflation in March from February was driven mainly by the deceleration of food and transportation costs.

In the January to March period, inflation averaged 8.3 percent.

While inflation has started to slow down, Balisacan said it remains a pressing issue that needs to be urgently addressed by the government.

He said there are upside risks to the inflation outlook due to global supply uncertainties, impending wage adjustments, and increases in service fees.

As such, the Inter-Agency Committee on Inflation and Market Outlook, formed to serve as an advisory body on strategies to alleviate inflation and ensure food and energy security, aims to come up with recommendations to address threats such as the potential escalation of African swine fever, as well as the El Niño phenomenon.

Balisacan said one of the government’s top priorities is to protect the purchasing power of Filipinos, especially the most vulnerable.

He said this will be done through strategies under the Philippine Development Plan 2023 to 2028.