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Big jump in inflation 

Consumer prices continued to climb at a rapid pace this year, with the latest index released yesterday by the Bahamas National Statistical Institute (BNSI) showing a 7 percent increase year over year at the end of July.

July itself represents a major increase over the previous few months with a 1.5 percent increase. This is the most significant jump month over month recorded since before January 2020, according to the report, which only goes as far back as January 2020.

“The Consumer Price Index June 2022 rose 7 percent from this same time last year,” the Consumer Price Index Summary – July 2022 states.

“Consumers paid more in July 2022 for products such as ‘alcoholic beverages, tobacco and narcotics’ as this major group registered an increase of 4.8 percent over the same period last year.

“On a yearly and monthly basis, price increases were seen within the ‘recreation and culture’ major group, showing a 23 percent increase and 17.32, respectively. The ‘hotel and restaurant’ category also rose 3.7 [percent] month over month, and 17.9 percent over this same time last year, as there was a higher demand for travel accommodation within this category compared to a year earlier.

“On a year over year basis, the category of ‘transport’, which includes gasoline, rose at a slower pace in July than in June 2022. On a monthly basis, gasoline prices were up 3.2 percent compared with June 2022.”

Regarding the 1.5 percent increase for July 2022 when compared to June 2022, the report notes, “This July 2022 increase followed a 0.5 percent increase between the months of May and June 2022.”

Many consumers in The Bahamas and elsewhere have been burdened by persistently high levels of inflation over many months.

In his budget communication back in May, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Philip Davis announced measures intended to reduce the impact of high inflation, including pay raises for most public officers, a proposed minimum wage increase in the public sector, and a permanent increase in social assistance by 50 percent in comparison to pre-pandemic levels.

“Bahamians were already struggling with high energy prices, high food prices, and expensive housing costs,” he noted.

“In recent months, geopolitical conflict and continued supply chain disruptions around the world have caused prices here at home to go up even further, which has put the squeeze on everyone, especially the middle class and the most vulnerable.”

The prime minister also announced revenue measures he said are geared toward lowering the cost of living, lowering the cost for acquiring property and encouraging investment in key sectors of the economy.

“To achieve these goals, in this budget, we have reduced the duty on a significant number of food items to bring relief to our citizens and residents,” he announced at the time.

In late August, Davis urged Bahamians to be frugal, adding that the high level of inflation is expected to continue for the next few months.

“There was a meeting of the central bank governors of the world just very recently and they are predicting that it’s going to get a bit worse before it gets better, even though there are signs that are so inherently contradictory, when you look at what I call the economic indices, that speak to whether inflation is going to be stabilized and/or is going to be a runaway horse as it’s been,” Davis said.”

“From their prognosis, it seems that we are in for a rough ride for another few months …”

Davis advised Bahamians to be vigilant with their finances.

Central Bank Governor John Rolle said in July that the average inflation rate in The Bahamas will continue to move a bit higher in the near term.