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This is 0.82 percent points higher than the rate recorded in February (17.33 percent), which makes it the highest reported in four years since April 2017.
The new figure was disclosed by the National Bureau of Statistics in its CPI March 2021 report that was released on Thursday.
Increases were recorded in all Classification of Individual Consumption by Purpose (COICOP) divisions that yielded the Headline index, the report said.
On a month-on-month basis, the Headline index increased to 1.56 percent in March, indicating 0.02 percent points higher than the rate recorded in the previous month which was 1.54 percent.
The percentage change in the average composite CPI for the twelve months period ending March 2021, over the average of the CPI for the previous twelve months period, was 14.55 percent, representing a 0.50 percent point higher than the 14.05 percent recorded in February.
Similarly, the urban inflation rate increased to 18.76 percent (year-on-year) in March 2021 from 17.92 percent recorded in February.
The rural inflation rate, on the other hand, stood at 17.60 percent in March 2021 from the 16.77 percent reported last month.
The urban index, on a month-on-month basis, rose to 1.60 percent in March, representing an increase of 0.02 percent compared to the rate recorded in February, while the rural index also rose to 1.52 percent in March, up by 0.02 compared to the 1.50 percent rate that was recorded in the previous month.
According to the NBS report, the corresponding twelve-month year-on-year average percentage change for the urban index is 15.15 percent in March.
The agency noted that this was higher than the 14.66 percent reported in February, while the corresponding rural inflation rate in March was 13.99 percent compared to 13.48 percent recorded in February.
It revealed that the composite food index rose to 22.95 percent in March compared to 21.79 percent in February.
On a month-on-month basis, the food sub-index increased to 1.90 percent in March, up by 0.01 percent points from 1.89 percent recorded in February.
“This rise in the food index was caused by increases in prices of bread and cereals, potatoes, yam, and other tubers, meat, vegetable, fish, oils and fats, and fruits.
“The average annual rate of change of the Food sub-index for the twelve-month period ending March 2021 over the previous twelve-month average was 17.93 percent, 0.68 percent points from the average annual rate of change recorded in February 2021 (17.25) percent,” the report said.