For many households, the grocery list each month is constant. However, from time to time, unexpected price increases push our budgets beyond what we had planned. This is as a result of inflation.

Foreign exchange values, production costs, including gas and electricity, and transportation increases all add to rising prices for consumer goods.

Inflation is the change in the prices of goods and services for the island. To achieve this number, STATIN (the Statistical Institute of Jamaica) sends out workers on a monthly basis to markets, supermarkets, hardware stores and other businesses, to collect pricing data.

The data is then compared with figures from the previous months, looking for any change. The calculation is done via the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI); it is this percentage change which represents the inflation number for a particular month.

The inflation rate in Jamaica increased to 3.6 per cent in February of this year, following a 2.6 per cent rise in the previous month.

Under the current IMF agreement, in order for Jamaica to achieve its growth targets and families to be able to set and manage budgets, an environment of certainty has to be maintained. This certainty is in the stability of prices and containment of costs. The lower the rate of inflation, the better the level of certainty in the economy. Stability is best for planning for the future and great for growth.

EPOC will monitor the level of inflation and hold the government to account as it relates to any breach of the Jamaica programme.