KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's inflation in February 2023 remained at 3.7%, led by growing costs in food and hospitality.
The rate of increase, which brought the consumer price index (CPI) to 129.8, was on a par with the increase in January, and higher than the 3.6% median forecast of a Reuters poll of economists.
In a statement, chief statistician of the Statistics Department Datuk Sri Mohd Uzir Mahidin said the restaurants and hotels sector saw prices rise 7.4% while the food and non-alcoholic beverages sector advanced 7%.
This was partially mitigated by the slower increase in the transport group, which was 3.7% as compared with 4% in January.
In addition, the increase in Malaysia’s inflation was also due to the increase in furnishings, household equipment and routine household maintenance (3.4%); miscellaneous goods and services (2.5%) and health (1.8%).
Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels and recreation services and culture recorded an increase of 1.7% respectively, while education increased 1.6%.
Both alcoholic beverages and tobacco, and clothing and footwear inclined 0.8% and 0.4% respectively as against February 2022.
There was a slower increase in the food away from home component of 8.9% as compared with 9.3% in January.
"Among the initiatives that were introduced by the government to reduce the cost of living and ease the inflation of food away from home was Menu Rahmah that was announced on Jan 31, 2023," said Mohd Uzir in a statement.
However, the food at home component was driven higher by 5.8% as compared with 5.1% in January amid greater price increases in all its subgroups.
"Continuous heavy rain since the end of December 2022 to February 2023 in several states has led to increases in food prices, especially vegetables.
"As a result of the transition of the monsoon, the inflation for the vegetables subgroup has recorded a significant increase of 5.8% as compared to 1% in January 2023," said Mohd Uzir.
Meanwhile, transport inflation slowed to 3.7% in February as compared with 4% in January.
The increase of the average price of Unleaded petrol RON97 eased to 4.4% (RM3.35 per litre) as compared to 9.5% recorded in January 2023 (RM3.35 per litre).
The moderate increase in fuel prices was in tandem with the 13.6% decline in the price of Brent crude oil to US$82.71 per barrel in February 2023 from US$95.76 in February 2022.