Consumer prices in the Cayman Islands have grown faster year-on-year during the second quarter of 2013 than in any other period since December 2008, according to information released this week by government.
The consumer price index for the quarter ending in June jumped by 2.7 percent compared to a year ago, the local government’s Economics and Statistics Office reported Monday.
This follows a 1.4 percent rise during the first quarter over the same period in 2012, and a 2.1 percent 12-month increase in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to the most recent government figures.
Finance Minister Marco Archer said, “The inflation rate is not unexpected as higher charges for items such as health insurance and tertiary education were implemented during the period.”
Health insurance premiums were adjusted upward as a result of expanded benefits, while higher tertiary education fees were charged to non-Caymanian students, he said.
Insurance costs alone surged 21.8 percent as mainly health insurance premiums rose due to both wider benefits and the introduction of payments toward an indigent fund.
Education costs grew by 5 percent over the past 12 months ending in June.
The price index for alcohol and tobacco also increased by 13.3 percent, reflecting a higher duty on tobacco that took effect in September 2012. The combined prices for clothing and footwear rose by 4.5 percent.
The cost of food also grew faster (3.7 percent) than prices overall, with vegetables (9.7 percent), fruit (8.8 percent), meat (4.2 percent) and milk products (4.1 percent) representing the biggest price drivers.
In contrast, there was a decline in the price index for housing and utilities as actual rentals were lower on average during the period compared to a year ago.
Between the second and the first quarter of this year, however, electricity, gas and other fuel prices moved up 7.1 percent. At the same time, transportation costs increased 3.8 percent between the first and second quarter of this year, whereas the purchasing price for vehicles declined by 3.2 percent.
The consumer price index is calculated by the Economics and Statistics Office using a basket of goods and services. The 1,393 items in the basket are classed in 12 groups and weighted in order to replicate a household budget based on the 2007 Survey of Living Conditions/Household Budget Survey. That survey was last updated in June 2008.
Housing and utilities, for example, represent nearly 40 percent of the consumer price index, whereas food makes up about 8 percent.