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A WORKER cuts metal at a construction area in Binondo, Manila on March 24. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ RUSSELL A. PALMA

By Ana Olivia A. Tirona, Searcher

RETAIL PRICES for building materials in the National Capital Region (NCR) have reached their fastest pace in over Ffive years in February amid supply chain constraints, according to preliminary data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

According to the PSA, the Building Materials Retail Price Index (CMRPI) in Metro Manila rose from 3.3% in January to 3.3% in February. This was higher than the 1.1% print seen in the same month last year.

This is the strongest year-on-year growth in building material prices in the NCR in more than Iffive years, i.e. since the 3.5% of November 2016. The month of February Iffigure also equaled the 3.3% of July 2018.

Asian Institute of Management economist John Paolo R. Rivera attributed the February print to supply chain limitations caused by the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and the Russian-Ukrainian war.

“Demand is also high given a more open economy with increased activity, especially for public and private construction Ifrms,” Mr. Rivera said in a text message.

The Philippine government eased restriction levels in February, allowing for greater mobility and economic activity as COVID-19 cases declined.

“Construction will continue to recover to pre-pandemic levels as demand for commercial and residential properties will also continue given increased economic activity in urban areas,” Rivera said.

Since the beginning of the year, the CMRPI has averaged 3.2%, faster than the average of 1.2% at the same time last year.

The February result was driven by faster growth in paint materials and related compounds (2.3% in February compared to 1.9% in January), plumbing materials (4.5% compared to 3.8%) and tinsmithing materials (5.2% versus 4.2%).

At the same time, slower price growth was observed for masonry materials (1.9% vs. 2%) and miscellaneous building materials (3.4% vs. 4.4%).

Mr. Rivera expects an increase in construction activity in the commercial and residential sectors given a sustained economic recovery despite the interruptions and disruptions of the current situation.