The general price levels of goods and services for March 2020 remained at 7.8 per cent for March despite the panic buyings which increased the prices of goods and services within this period.
With inflation for the January and February also being 7.8 per cent, this represents the first time that the country's inflation rate had remained the same for three consecutive months,
Details of the figures from the Ghana Statistical Service show that the year-on-year food and non-alcoholic basket recorded a rate of 8.4 per cent, 0.5 percentage points higher than that of February – making it the highest food inflation recorded since rebasing in August 2019.
This also means food is still the predominant driver of the overall inflation for the past eight months while main price drivers of this basket were vegetables, fruits and nuts.
On the other hand, the non-food basket also recorded year-on-year inflation of 7.4 per cent for March 2020, lower than the 7.7 per cent recorded the previous month.
Main price drivers in this basket include other transport services, garden products, postal and courier services and narcotics, which all recorded rates above the group’s average.
On the path of locally produced products and imported items, the former continued to record higher rates compared to the latter.
Locally produced products recorded 8.8 per cent in March compared to 8.6 per cent last month(February); whereas imported items inflation for March was 5.6 per cent, lower than that of February by 0.4 percentage points.
Regionally, the year-on-year inflation ranged from 9.2 per cent in the Volta Region to 3.7 per cent in the Upper West Region. Greater Accra recorded its lowest rate of inflation for the month since rebasing of the basket, hitting 8.3 per cent.
Why panic buying didn’t affect March rate
Questions have been raised as to why, despite prices of goods and services surging abnormally in March due to panic buying before a lockdown as a result of the coronavirus, inflation still maintained the same rate for January and February.
The response to the question is that GSS publish inflation on a year-on-year basis.
This means that the inflation for March 2020 is calculated as the relative change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) between March this year (2020) and that of last year (2019), using last year as the reference year.
So the panic buying that occurred in March 2020 will rather reflect in the figure for March 2021, by which March 2020 will be the new reference year.