Prices on a range of goods and services, from beverages to taxi rides, rose enough last month to bump inflation up 1.63 percent, Costa Rica´s highest monthly price increase since August 2008, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Statistics and Census Institute (INEC).
Driving the push last month were rent on homes and medical, transportation and education costs, INEC said. Transportation prices went up 3.52 percent in January, reaching a nearly 12 percent annual increase.
Last year saw price increases slump, and in some cases decline, leading to an overall inflation rate for 2009 of 4.05 percent. That rate was the lowest since at least 1977, when the country began keeping count, according to Aldesa, a San José financial consulting firm. The low inflation rate was the result of the global economic and financial crisis, which dragged down the cost of raw materials and, consequently, the price of many everyday goods and services.
Aldesa´s market report contends that greater dynamism in the local economy will cause the inflation rate to continue to rise. January´s Consumer Price Index put Costa Rica about a third of the way up to the Central Bank´s projection of 5 percent inflation for 2010.
Despite the downturn in 2009, Costa Rica has among the highest rates of inflation in the region.