Costa Rican January Consumer Prices Rose Most in Three Years

Costa Rican consumer prices rose the most in three years after government regulators let energy costs rise in Central America’s second-biggest economy.

Costa Rican consumer prices climbed 1.31 percent in January, the largest monthly increase since Jan. 2010, the national statistics agency said in an e-mailed statement today. Inflation quickened to 5.74 percent from a year earlier, the fastest since 2009. Electricity costs drove rent and home expenses up 4.55 percent.

“The component that sparked the biggest rise in the inflation rate was the increase in electricity services,” according to a report published by Aldesa Puesto de Bolsa, a Costa Rican investment strategy and risk management company. The report added that costs for services regulated by the government, such as electricity, have increased about 13 percent in the past year.

Costa Rica’s consumer prices rose 4.5 percent last year and inflation is forecast to be around 5 percent, plus or minus one percentage point, this year, central bank president Rodrigo Bolanos said in a Jan. 31 interview.

The government is pushing a package of measures, including higher taxes on interest income sent abroad, to slow capital inflows that Vice President Luis Liberman said have been coming into the country “too fast.”

Costa Rica’s currency, the colon, has gained 1.2 percent this year, the most among 5 Central American economies tracked by Bloomberg. The colon’s appreciation was “clearly not the reason” for the increase in consumer prices in January, according to Aldesa.

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