BEIRUT: Consumer prices in Lebanon continued to soar significantly as the authorities still contemplate ways to lift the subsidies gradually and issue new prepaid cards for low-income families.
The Central Administration of Statistics said Consumer Price Index rose by 151.5% in the first two months of 2021 from the same period of 2020.
In comparison, it grew by 10.7% and by 3.2% in the first two months of 2020 and 2019, respectively.
One of the main reasons behind the astronomical surge in the prices of basic commodities and other items was the severe devaluation of the Lebanese pound against the U.S. dollar.
The CPI expanded by 155.4% in February 2021 from the same month of 2020, while it registered its 8th consecutive triple-digit increase since July 2020 and its largest year-on-year rise based on monthly data from December 2007, as reported by Lebanon This Week, the economic research publication of the Byblos Bank Group.
“The cumulative surge in inflation is due in part to the inability of authorities to monitor and contain prices, as well as to the deterioration of the Lebanese pound’s exchange rate on the parallel market, which has encouraged opportunistic wholesalers and retailers to raise the prices of consumer goods disproportionately,” the report said.
It added the smuggling of subsidized imported goods has resulted in shortages of these products locally, which contributed to the increase in prices.
Prices at hotels and restaurants rose by 7.2 times in February 2021 from the same month last year, followed by prices of clothing & footwear and of furnishings & household equipment 7.1 times each, prices of food & nonalcoholic beverages 5.2 times, prices of alcoholic beverages & tobacco 5 times, the cost of miscellaneous goods & services 4.3 times, transportation costs 3.3 times, the cost of recreation & entertainment 3.2 times, and communication costs 2.1 times.
Furthermore, the prices of water, electricity, gas & other fuels rose by 49.7% year-on-year in February 2021, followed by health care costs 17.2%, the cost of education as well as actual rent 10.2% each.
New rents jumped by 10.2% year-on-year in February 2021.
In parallel, the CPI grew by 4.6% in February 2021 from the previous month, compared to a month-on-month rise of 2.8% in January 2021 and of 8.1% in December 2020.
The cost of communication increased by 10% month-on-month in February 2021, followed by the prices of food & nonalcoholic beverages 9.2%, water, electricity, gas & other fuels 8.2%, transportation costs 5.4%, prices of alcoholic beverages & tobacco 5%, the cost of miscellaneous goods & services 4.2%, the cost of furnishings & household equipment 4.1%, prices at restaurants & hotels 3.3%, the prices of clothing & footwear 3%, and the cost of recreation & entertainment 1.8%.
Also, health care and education costs, as well actual and imputed rents, were almost unchanged month-on-month in February 2021.