The National Bank of Serbia will publish the first Inflation Report of this year on Tuesday, following its decision to increase the benchmark interest rate to 5.5 percent.
Economist Saša Đogović says that inflationary pressures will ease at the end of the first quarter at the earliest, and most likely in the second half of the year.
In December, year-on-year inflation reached 15.1 percent. Đogović estimates that annual inflation at the end of 2023 will be around 11 percent.
“The fact that inflationary pressures are expected to ease and inflation growth slows down does not mean that prices will fall. I expect that by the end of the year, the inflation rate will remain high and that it will hover around a double-digit level,” Đogović told Biznis.rs.
The prices of food and energy will certainly affect inflation. One price increase in the energy sector already happened in January, and it was agreed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that electricity and gas prices will go up again in May and November.
“In the case of electricity, it is estimated that a combined tariff adjustment of around 15 percent is sufficient to achieve cost recovery. This will be achieved through an increase of eight percent effective from the beginning of 2023 and eight percent from May 2023,” says the IMF document dealing with sectoral policies related to the new arrangement the Serbian government concluded with the IMF.
Regarding food prices, Đogović points out that nobody knows how much the global prices will fluctuate this year, given that Russia and Ukraine are large food producers and exporters, and there is no end in sight to the conflict. At the same time, the question remains what the agricultural year will be like in Serbia.
“The first data on the winter crops indicate that the yield will be above average, but we will see in the spring how things are. But expect a slowdown in the growth of food prices, but not their decline”, Đogović concluded.
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