Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala
By James Emejo
Increase in prices of food as well as hike in prices of other commodities in the economy pushed the Composite Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures inflation to 12.1 per cent year-on-year in March as against 11.9 per cent in February.
Headline inflation had declined to 11.9 per cent in February from 12.6 per cent in January, yielding credence to Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s monetary control mechanisms. But that relief was only transient as it jumped 0.2 per cent to 12.1 per cent in the month under review.
The monthly composite CPI was higher by 1.6 per cent in the period under review when compared with the figure in February.
According to the Consumer Price Index analysis for March, released yesterday by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the rise in inflation was blamed partially on the planting season, which increased the price of food products in the market, as well as increase in prices in the economy.
However, it stated that inflationary impact had been moderated by lack of liquidity in the economy occasion by the delay in the release of the monthly revenue allocation to the three-tiers of government by the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC).
Urban inflation rate was 13.7 per cent year-on-year while the rural figure was 11.0 for March.
The urban All Items index increased by 1.2 per cent on month-on-month, while the corresponding rural index increased by 2.1 per cent when compared with their preceding month.
The percentage change in the average composite CPI for the twelve-month period ending March 2012 over the average of the CPI for the previous twelve-month period was 10.9, down slightly from the 11.0 preceding month.
The corresponding 12-month year-on-year average percentage change for urban and rural indices was 9.9 and 11.8, respectively.
The “All items less Farm Produce” index which excludes the prices of volatile agricultural products also rose by 15.0 per cent year-on-year, while the average 12 -month annual rate of rise of the index stood at 12.1 per cent for the twelve-month period ending February 2012.
On a month-on-month basis, the core index increased by 4.5 per cent in March 2012.
“In March, the level of the Composite Food Index was also higher than the corresponding level a year ago by 11.8 percent. This was higher than 9.7 percent recorded in the previous month.
Compared with February 2012 figure, average monthly food prices rose in March 2012 by 2.3 percent. The rise in the food inflation was mainly due to the increasing cost of food products especially yams and other tubers as food products have become relatively scarce due to the drawdown from the end of year harvest.
The average annual rate of rise of the index was 10.3 percent (year-on-year) for the 12-month period ending March 2012,” the report stated.