Consumer prices rose 5.3 percent at the end of last year, according to the Consumer Price Index released yesterday, which compared consumer prices in December 2008 to those in December 2009.
Food and non-alcoholic beverage prices increased 5.4 percent during that period, with seafood costs rising 16.9 percent, according to the data released by the Planning Ministry’s National Institute of Statistics. Gasoline prices increased 28.3 percent, while diesel fuel prices increased 16.5 percent. Alcohol and tobacco prices increased 10.3 percent.
The yearend positive inflation capped a year in which most monthly CPI reports — from February to October — showed price decreases.
Neou Seiha, a senior researcher at the Economic Institute of Cambodia, said the return to positive inflation is a sign of recovery following the global economic crisis and reflects increases in demand and production.
“During the crisis, costs of production decreased and so did demand. Now both are increasing and that is why there is inflation,” he said, adding that the rate is healthy and that demand picked up in the last quarter of last year.
Figures released by the NIS show that prices fell by 2.3 percent in September and 1.6 percent in October compared to the same months the previous year. In November, they increased 1.3 percent compared to 12 months prior.
Even with the 12-month positive inflation, prices decreased from November 2009 to December 2009, according to Monday’s report.
In another sign that economic conditions are picking up, In Channy, CEO of Acleda Bank, said that a similar increase in commodities prices will significantly benefit farmers, who earlier this year increased production but had not benefited from higher prices. Now that is changing, he said.
“It’s been very low and then it picked up by the last quarter,” he said. “It’s good for the farmers, good for the economy and good for the economic forecast,” he said.
Sar Mora, president of the Cambodian Food and Service Workers Federation, said salaries will need to rise if fuel costs continue to climb and lead to price spikes in other goods.
“The gasoline price is going up, and my concern is the goods in the market will be hard to get,” he said.