Costa Rica’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) reports that prices fell an average of 0.08 percent during the month of September, the first month this year that consumer prices have decreased. Despite the slight deflation, through the first nine months of the year, average consumer prices have risen 3.87 percent, about a full percentage point higher than during the same period of 2009, when inflation was 2.92 percent.
The CPI, which is calculated by the National Statistics and Census Institute (INEC), measures the monthly price variation of 292 national goods and services in 12 categories. In September, average consumer prices fell for food and non-alcoholic drinks, alcoholic drinks and cigarettes, transportation, communication, and entertainment and culture. Prices experienced their largest increases in the areas of rent and living expenses, health, and diverse goods and services.
The largest percentage price decreases were seen in the cost of onions, tomatoes, eggs, gasoline, and automobiles. The largest percentage price increases were seen in the cost of cilantro, potatoes, bread, and domestic help.
From 2000-2008, Costa Rica’s inflation rate hovered around the 10 percent mark, reaching a high of 13.9 percent in 2008. After closing 2009 with a 4.05 percent inflation rate, the lowest recorded figure since 1971, Central Bank President Rodrigo Bolaños has stated on several occasions that the bank aims to keep the increase in consumer prices between 4 to 6 percent in 2010.
“The principal goal (of the Central Bank) is to keep inflation at a low level,” Bolaños told The Tico Times in August. “We have the inflation rate down to around where we’d like it to be, but it hasn’t been at that level for very long. The challenge of the Central Bank will be to maintain it. As the inflation rate stays low, the economy reacts with higher demand.”