J$ gains moderate Jamaica’s inflation

Jamaica’s inflation rate eased 0.4 percent in September 2019 according to the All Jamaica Consumer Price Index recently released by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) as the Jamaican dollar appreciated from a low of J$138.1 to the US dollar well into late August.
The rise in the value of the Jamaica dollar in the above period would reduce prices downwards for imported items but mainly fuel that would lead to reduced gasoline prices airfares and electricity that have a major impact on inflation.
The rate is down from 0.8 percent in August and 1 percent in July but higher than the negative 0.1 percent in June. For the twelve months to September, inflation came out at 3.4 percent.
According to Statin, the movement for September “was mainly as a result of a 0.5 percent increase in the index for the heavily weighted division Food and Non-Alcoholic Beverages. Fluctuating prices in agricultural produce had a strong influence on the movement in the index for the class ‘Vegetables and Starchy Foods’ moving up by 1.3 percent.

Chart showing the effect of movement of the J$ & local inflation.

Other notable increases occurred for the following divisions: ‘Communication’ 6.9 percent resulting from higher price for communicative services, ‘Education’ 4.7 percent due to higher tuition fees for the new school year. ‘Recreation and Culture’ also increased by 1.7 percent from higher prices for textbooks. Additionally, the ‘Housing, Water, Electricity, Gas and Other Fuels’ division recorded a 0.3 percent increase, due primarily to higher electricity, water and sewage rates.” The overall increase in the inflation rate was tempered by a 1.0 percent fall in the index for the Transport division attributed to lower petrol prices and airfares. Notwithstanding the impact of the reasons for changes mentioned by Statin, a closer look at the movements of inflation and the exchange rate of the Jamaican dollar versus the US dollar shows the movement of the exchange rate having the most telling effect on inflation, as is shown by the chart of inflation and exchange movements.

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