Tunisia’s CPI inflation remained at a six-month high of 5.7% y/y in March, the same as month earlier, as rising food and beverage prices were partially mitigated by cooling housing and clothing charges, the statistics office INS said.
The reading remains within the central bank’s comfort zone despite being the highest in North Africa excluding Egypt. Spurring economic growth remains the government’s priority in the near term and thus one can understand the central bank’s cautious monetary stance by leaving the benchmark interest rate unchanged at 4.75%.
In monthly terms, the CPI, however, fell 0.1% in March, the same as in February. Unfavourable seasonal factors kept boosting food and beverages prices (33% of the basket) prices in March, marking a 8.0% y/y expansion. Vegetables rice climbed 28.9% y/y in March and those of fresh fruits increased 10.2% y/y. Edible oils prices grew 6.2% y/y in March.
Housing and utilities prices (14% of the basket) grew just 0.2% m/m in March, trimming the annual rise to 4.9% from 5.3% y/y in February. Rent prices grew 4.9% y/y and those of gas and electricity increased 4.3% y/y in March. Transport prices grew 0.1% m/m, keeping the annual increase at 3.5%, the same as in February.
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