By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Brazil’s IPCA (Consumer Price Index) for the month of March registered an increase of 1.32 percent, according to the IBGE Statistics Bureau, the highest inflation growth rate since February of 2003. For the last twelve months inflation has risen by 8.2 percent, well over the ceiling of the target established by Brazil’s Central Bank of 6.5 percent. For the first quarter of the year, Brazil’s inflation rate already increased by 3.83 percent.
In February of 2015 the IPCA index had already grown by 1.22 percent, a record number last registered in 2005.
According to Eulina Nunes dos Santos, coordinator of price indexes at the IBGE, energy costs are to blame, as they made up more than half of the inflation index. “Energy bills were 22 percent higher due to the increased costs of buying energy,” she explained.
According to the IBGE, Brazilian energy consumers are paying on average 36.34 percent more for their electricity this year and for the past twelve months energy prices have risen by 60.42 percent.
Food and beverage prices went up 1.17 percent in March, after increasing by 0.81 percent in February. Santos stated that energy and food price increases combined were responsible for more than eighty percent of the index.
“What we see in the twelve months [analysis] is that consumers are paying more for several products, especially food and housing,” concluded Santos.
Transport costs also weighed on consumer’s finances, with gasoline increasing by 1.26 percent and urban transportation by 0.85 percent. According to the IBGE two items that registered a decrease in prices in March were air travel (-15.45 percent) and landline telephone tariffs (-4.13 percent).
Analysts have forecast that inflation in 2015 will be significantly higher than the the ceiling target established by the Central Bank.