BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Consumer Price Index was little changed in April, with the latest figures from the Central Administration of Statistics showing a modest 0.1 percent decline compared with the previous month.
The figures, published Wednesday, show an overall increase of 1.6 percent since the beginning of the year. Because statistics were not collected from January to May 2013, it will not be not possible to calculate the year-on-year increase in Lebanon’s cost of living until the June figures are published.
Lebanon launched a new, expanded CPI in March, after consulting with the International Monetary Fund to produce a more accurate picture of the average Lebanese household’s expenses.
As a part of the new CPI, the CAS compiles regional subindexes. In April, the subindexes largely followed the national trend, with the Nabatieh subindex recording the biggest decline at 0.9 percent and the Bekaa Valley the only region to see an increase in consumer prices, of 0.2 percent.
By component, the clothing and footwear category saw the biggest swing, increasing 6.7 percent nationally compared with March. This increase follows a staggering 32.4 percent jump in the same component between February and March.
But the April increase in clothing prices was offset by drops in food (1.4 percent), utilities (0.3 percent), furnishings (0.1 percent), heath care (2.1 percent), communications (0.1 percent) and the restaurant/hotel category (0.1 percent).
Looking forward, the CPI could see some movement in the communications category, with Telecoms Minister Boutros Harb slashing the price of several services in the sector. The price of local and international calls has already been reduced, while Harb is to unveil new prices for Internet data services Friday.
The pending new rent control law could also have a noticeable impact on the CPI. While President Michel Sleiman has referred the bill to the Constitutional Court for review, if it does go into effect, thousands of tenants who signed lease contracts before 1993 will see their first increase in rent costs in over 20 years.