The INE changes the way of measuring the price of gas and electricity

The INE changes the way of measuring the price of gas and electricity

It is a reform that comes a year late and dragging controversy. The INE has incorporated into its calculations for the consumer price index (CPI) the free market for both electricity and gas. Until now, these consumers, who account for 60% of the total in the case of electricity, and who are the ones with the most stable prices, were not included in the CPI calculation.

It must be taken into account that during the energy crisis, the regulated electricity tariff rose well above that of the free market, with longer-term contracts. Subsequently, with the entry into operation of the Iberian mechanism, the price of the regulated tariff has fallen and the free market contracts, upon renewal, raised their prices.

These are changes that have not been made before, according to the INE, because it did not have detailed information from the companies to incorporate these contracts into the measurement.

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Jaume Masdeu

A cart with various products in a supermarket

In February, a CaixaBank Research report stated that the CPI was “clearly biased upwards in 2021” due to this omission. The INE quickly responded with an institutional statement in which it defended that the CPI was “an indicator based on a clear and precise methodology” and that the published index had all the guarantees. He added that they were working with the sector to incorporate the free market. Finally, the necessary information arrived that allows, from January 1, to incorporate these free market contracts. A change that, says the INE, has the support of Eurostat, the statistical office of the EU.

The second change that the INE has carried out is that the main source for calculating the weights is now the National Accounts (CN), instead of the Family Budget Survey (EPF), as up to now. In this way, new weights are introduced in the basket to calculate the CPI. María Jesús Fernández, from Funcas, considers that “the rise in inflation has had to do with the change in the weighting of the shopping basket.”

According to Funcas’s calculations, with the old weightings the result would have been lower inflation this January, 5.3% overall, and 6.9% underlying. In the new weighting, food and non-alcoholic beverages lose weight, going from accounting for 22.6% of the total to 19.6%; as well as housing, clothing and footwear. Instead, alcoholic beverages and tobacco, and transportation earn it.

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