St. Maarten consumer prices increase but inflation rate falls

POSTED: 07/26/11 11:56 AM

St. Maarten – The consumer price index increased by 1.5 percent in the month of June 2011 compared to that of April 2011. A 2.7 percent increase was recorded over a twelve month period (June 2010 to June 2011). This data is evident from statistics provided by the Department of Statistics (STAT).

Expenditure Categories

Eight of the nine expenditure categories have become more expensive, whilst one expenditure category has become cheaper. Food (+2.9%), Beverages and Tobacco (+1.9%), Clothing and Footwear (+1.1%), Housing (+1.7%), Medical Care (+0.6%), Transport & Communication (+0.6%), Recreation & Education (2.1%) and Miscellaneous (+0.5%) are amongst the more expensive whilst prices of Household Furnishing & Appliances (-0.1%) are slightly cheaper.

A Closer Look

The categories with the largest influence in the basket are Food (10%), Housing (39%) and Transport & Communication (20%). Though the expenditure category Food is the third largest it has recorded the largest price increase (+2.9%) in June relative to April 2011.

Food

All nine food groups became more expensive. The following increases were recorded in each food group; Grain (+3.4%), Meat and Fish (+4.1%), Fats & Oils (+2.6%), Dairy Products (+1.1%), Potatoes, Vegetables & Fruit (+1.3%), Sugar & Chocolate (+6.7%), Pre-cooked dishes (+7.0%), Eating-out (+2.0%) and other food resources (+3.0%).

More specifically the following products largely influenced the total price change within the food group: Grains largely influenced by; Small Breads (+27.1%), Brown Rice (+8.8%) and Cereal (+7.4%). The food group Meat & Fish was largely influenced by; Beef (+11.6%), Oxtail (+9.3%) and Boneless Pork Meat (+8.1%). The food group Potatoes, Vegetables & Fruit was largely influenced by; Carrots (-5.2%), Leafy Vegetables (+18.8%), Tomatoes (-7.3%), other Fresh Vegetables (+60.4%) and Grapes & Plums (+22.2%). The food group Sugar & Chocolate was largely influenced by; Sugar (+9.8%). The food group Other Food Resources was largely influenced by; Beverage Mix (+28.8%)

Housing

Within the expenditure category Housing it can be noted that four of the five product groups became more expensive whilst one remain unchanged. Dwelling costs (+0.4%), Energy expenses (+5.8%), House maintenance (+3.8%) and Garden maintenance (+0.9%) were amongst the more expensive product groups. The products Electricity (+6.8%) largely influenced the total price percentage change recorded in the product group Energy Usage. The product group Maintenance of dwelling was largely influenced by; Paint (+14.6%), Roof Material (+7.0%), Metals (+10.2%) and other Materials (-5.8%).

Transport & Communication

Within the expenditure category Transport & Communication one of the four product groups became more expensive whilst three remained stable. The product group Vehicle Expenses increased by 2.4%. The price change in Gasoline (+4.5%), Diesel (-10.0%), Motor Oil (+4.2%) and Tires (+3.0%) largely influenced the total price change within the product group Vehicle Expenses.

There have been frequent price changes recorded for the products Gasoline and Diesel. In light of these developments a closer look at the World Crude Oil prices will help to explain the volatile trend. Note that the average price per barrel of crude oil has increased by approximately $43.57 between June 2010 and 2011.

Long-term inflation

The 12-month average of consumer prices was 2.7 percent higher in June 2011 than in June 2010. The inflation rate of June 2011 (2.7%) has decreased by 10.89 percent compared to that of June 2010 (3.03%).

Eight of the nine expenditure categories recorded inflation in June 2011, whilst one category recorded deflation. Housing at a rate of 3.8 percent, which is the category with the largest influence (39%), Transportation and Communication at a rate of 2.4 percent, which is the second largest category (20%) and Food prices inflated at a rate of 3.6 percent, which is the third largest category (10%).

Inflation on St Maarten over the prior 2-year period has been climbing. Noteworthy are the fluctuations in this rising trend, which shows a less sharp rise in 2011 than in 2010. It must be noted that the implementation of an increased TOT (Turn over Tax) has had an impact on the dip and subsequent rise recorded in 2011. The inflation rate recorded in June 2011(2.7%) is comparable to that recorded in June 2010 (3.03%).

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