Several statistical updates have been released on July 19, 2019 as follows:

Benefits, up to June 2019

Exchange rates, up to June 2019

Construction, up to Quarter 2 2019

Utilities, up to Quarter 2 2019

Climate, up to June 2019

External Trade, up to Quarter 1 2019

Additional statistical series and indicators are available at  http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-data, and published statistical reports, including Statistical Bulletins, can be found on the statistics reports and publications page of the SHG website: http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-reports-and-publications.

We welcome comments and suggestions on any of the statistics published by the Statistics Office. Please email: statistics@sainthelena.gov.sh, call tel: 22138, or visit the office in person on the first floor of the Castle, Jamestown.

Download a PDF of this Bulletin here.

This bulletin includes estimates of the latest annual price inflation rates for the second quarter of 2019, calculated from the Retail Price Index (RPI). The data released in this Bulletin, including the RPI itself, can be downloaded from the St Helena Statistics website at: www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-data.

Annual and quarterly inflation rates

The overall Retail Price Index was measured at 104.9 in the second quarter of 2019. This compares with 104.1 in the first quarter of the year, and 100.9 in the second quarter of last year. This means that retail prices rose, on average, by 4.0% over the past year, between the second quarter of 2018 and the second quarter of 2019, and by 0.7% in the three months between the first and second quarters.

The annual price inflation rate of 4.0% is a very slight decrease in the rate from last quarter (Q1 2019), when the annual price inflation rate was measured at 4.1% (see Chart 1). The quarterly price inflation rate of 0.7% is a very slight increase in the rate from last quarter, when it was 0.5% (i.e. Q1 2019 compared to Q4 2018).

Many goods available in retail outlets on St Helena are imported from either South Africa or the United Kingdom, and so St Helena’s prices are heavily influenced by price inflation in those two countries, the value of the St Helena pound compared to the South Africa Rand, and the cost of freight and import taxes.

In the United Kingdom, the latest measured annual price inflation rate is 2.0%, and in South Africa it is 4.5% (both figures represent the May 2019 Consumer Price Index). Over the last year, the South African Rand has weakened against the St Helena pound, reducing the effect of South African inflation and changes in freight rates and import taxes.

Changes in prices of different groups of goods and services

Table 1 shows the average price change in item groups, comparing current prices to a year ago (the annual change) and to last quarter (the quarterly change).

Compared to a year ago, the biggest increase in prices has been in ‘Communications’ (12.5%), the cumulative effect of an increase in landline telephone services in the third quarter of 2018, and an increase in broadband internet services in the second quarter of 2019. The lowest annual increase has been in ‘Household Energy’, reflecting the unchanged price of domestic electricity.

Compared to the last quarter, average prices increased in all categories, except for household energy and transport which remained unchanged. The biggest quarterly increase was in ‘Household Goods and Services’ (3.4%), largely because of recorded increases in the price of imported furniture and household cleaning fluids.

Some frequently asked questions:

What is price inflation?

Price inflation is the change in the average prices of goods and services over time. The rate of price inflation is calculated from the change in the Retail Price Index (RPI), which is the official measure of the average change in the prices of goods and services paid by consumers. The RPI is estimated each quarter, or once every three months, and the rate of price inflation is usually quoted on an annual basis; that is, comparing price changes over a 12-month period. Prices and the RPI tend to go up, but they can occasionally go down – which is price deflation.

Why do we measure inflation?

An accurate measure of price inflation helps understand the extent and nature of the impact of price changes on the government, businesses, households and individuals.

How is the RPI calculated?

The basis for the RPI is the average weekly cost of goods and services purchased by households on St Helena, sometimes called the ‘shopping basket’. Items which households purchase more of, such as food, have the biggest share of the RPI basket. The current RPI uses a basket from the latest Household Expenditure Survey in 2017; prices representing the groups of items in the basket are collected every quarter, and the price of the total basket is compared to the price in the baseline period, the first quarter of 2018. By convention, the value of the basket in the baseline period is scaled to 100, and the RPI values are quoted in relation to that baseline. For example, an RPI value of 120 means that average prices have increased by 20 per cent compared to those recorded in the baseline period.

What happens when items are not available?

If an item of the ‘basket’ is not available then either the previous price will be carried forward from the previous quarter, or a suitable substitute item will be identified and an adjustment calculation made. Care is taken to ensure that this substitute item represents the item category and that it does not introduce error to the measurement of the RPI. An important principle is that price changes should reflect actual price increases, and not changes in the quality of items.

Where can I get the data?

For detailed tables of the RPI and annual inflation rates from 1994 onwards, please visit: www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-data and download the ‘inflation’ data file. Other datasets, bulletins and reports are also available on our website: http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics.

Several statistical updates have been released on June 27, 2019 as follows:

Population, up to May 2019

Benefits, up to May 2019

Exchange rates, up to May 2019

Climate, up to May 2019

Additional statistical series and indicators are available at  http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-data, and published statistical reports, including Statistical Bulletins, can be found on the statistics reports and publications page of the SHG website: http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-reports-and-publications.

We welcome comments and suggestions on any of the statistics published by the Statistics Office. Please email: statistics@sainthelena.gov.sh, call tel: 22138, or visit the office in person on the first floor of the Castle, Jamestown.

Several statistical updates have been released on May 31, 2019 as follows:

Benefits  up to April 2019

Exchange Rates  up to April 2019

Climate up to March 2019

Additional statistical series and indicators are available at  http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-data, and published statistical reports, including Statistical Bulletins, can be found on the statistics reports and publications page of the SHG website: http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-reports-and-publications.

We welcome comments and suggestions on any of the statistics published by the Statistics Office. Please email: statistics@sainthelena.gov.sh, call tel: 22138, or visit the office in person on the first floor of the Castle, Jamestown.

Data on Population, including total population and arrivals and departures up to April 2019 have been released on May 10, 2019: Population.

Additional statistical series and indicators are available on the Statistics Data page, and published statistical reports, including Statistical Bulletins, can be found on the Statistics Reports and Publications page.

We welcome comments and suggestions on any of the statistics published by the Statistics Office. Please email: statistics@sainthelena.gov.sh, call tel: 22138, or visit the office in person on the first floor of the Castle, Jamestown.

Several statistical updates have been released on April 30, 2019 as follows:

Benefits, up to March 2019

Exchange rates, up to March 2019

Construction, up to Quarter 1 2019

Utilities, up to Quarter 1 2019

Population, up to March 2019

Climate, up to December 2018

Additional statistical series and indicators are available at  http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-data, and published statistical reports, including Statistical Bulletins, can be found on the statistics reports and publications page of the SHG website: http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-reports-and-publications.

We welcome comments and suggestions on any of the statistics published by the Statistics Office. Please email: statistics@sainthelena.gov.sh, call tel: 22138, or visit the office in person on the first floor of the Castle, Jamestown.

Download a PDF of this Bulletin here.

This Bulletin presents updated and revised estimates of the Human Development Index (HDI). This was first calculated and published by the Statistics Office in the Quarter 3 2016 Statistical News, as an additional tool to measure St Helena’s progress and a way to compare St Helena to the level of human development in other countries around the world.

The HDI uses data on years of education, life expectancy, and Gross National Income (GNI) per capita. New estimates on life expectancy and GNI per capita were published earlier this year, and years of education have been updated with enrolment figures supplied by the Education Directorate. The statistics and indicators presented in this Bulletin can be downloaded in Excel format from the ‘HDI’ file on the St Helena Statistics website at: www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-data.

The HDI is calculated and published each year by the United Nations (see hdr.undp.org), but St Helena is not included since it is not a member state of the UN. The estimates for St Helena and the global rankings published in this Bulletin have been calculated as a complement to the international UN estimates.

St Helena’s HDI

Table 1 presents the estimates of St Helena’s HDI from 2009 to 2017, and the rankings compared to other countries (a lower ranking is better – the ‘best’ country in the world has a ranking of 1). For comparison purposes, the table includes the same estimates for the United Kingdom and South Africa, the two countries with which St Helenians are usually considered to be most closely connected.

Since 2009 St Helena’s HDI increased from 0.714 to 0.756; this places St Helena in the ‘high’ category of human development, according to the classification used by the United Nations. Compared to other countries around the globe, St Helena’s HDI ranking rose from 93rd (out of 190 countries ranked) to 83rd in the world – an improvement of ten places. Chart 1 illustrates the change in the HDI index and global ranking compared to the United Kingdom and South Africa. In all three countries the value of HDI increased. The ranking of St Helena and South Africa rose by ten and seven places respectively, but the UK’s ranking fell by five places in the same period.

Components of the Human Development Index

The HDI is calculated as the average (using the geometric mean) of three sub-components which measure three dimensions of human development: incomes, health, and education. Income is measured using Gross National Income per capita in US dollars, adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP), health is measured using life expectancy, and education is measured using the average number of years at school in full-time education (a combination of the average years experienced by adults that have completed their education, and the average years that children can expect to be in full-time education).

Each component is “normalised” based on a maximum standard: if a country achieves these standards, its index value would be 1. For income, it is $PPP 85,000 per year GNI per capita, for health it is a life expectancy of 85 years, and for education it is a mean period of schooling of current adults of 15 years, and an expected period of schooling of 18 years. Table 2 shows the component index values and their global rankings for St Helena.

Chart 2 shows the change in the St Helena index values and global rankings of each component from 2009; all components have increased in value, but the income component increased the fastest, largely due to the additional activity during the construction of St Helena’s airport. St Helena’s rank on the income component is lowest of the three components, at 127th in the world in 2009 before airport construction. But it gained twenty three places to 104th by 2017, after airport construction. St Helena’s rank on the health component of the HDI was relatively stable, at 46th in 2009 and 50th in 2017. But its rank on the education component fell, from 63rd in 2009 to 84th in 2017, as other countries increased their number of years of schooling faster than St Helena.

Chart 3 shows the value of the three HDI components for 2017 for St Helena, compared to the United Kingdom and South Africa. St Helena has a much higher index component for health than South Africa, because of its longer life expectancy, but it is still slightly lower than the UK. For the other two components, St Helena has lower values than both countries, but only slightly lower than South Africa. Education is lower because of relatively low enrolment rates past the age of compulsory schooling (16), and income is lower because of much lower incomes compared to the UK, and the relatively high cost of imported goods; the adjustment for lower purchasing power of a St Helena pound (on St Helena) compared to a UK pound (in the UK) has the effect of reducing average Gross National Income per capita.

Chart 4 shows the same component indices, but using the global rankings instead of the index values themselves. St Helena’s rank is below the UK for all three components, and slightly below South Africa for both education and income (in the case of income, this is largely a result of the adjustment for local purchasing power). South Africa is well below both St Helena and the UK for health; in part, this is likely because of the higher prevalence of HIV.

Notes and Methodology

About the Human Development Index

The Human Development Index (HDI) is a summary measure of achievements in three key dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living. It is published by the United Nations Development Program each year in an annual Human Development Report. A key philosophy of the HDI is that it measures development in dimensions beyond the purely economic, and although it is a somewhat crude measure it is widely accepted in development discourse. Read more about the HDI, and the research and theory behind the index, here: http://hdr.undp.org/en/content/human-development-index-hdi.

Measurement methodology

The health dimension is assessed by life expectancy at birth, the education dimension is measured by mean of years of schooling for adults aged 25 years and more and expected years of schooling for children of school entering age. The standard of living dimension is measured by gross national income per capita (HDI uses the logarithm of income, to reflect the diminishing importance of income with increasing GNI.) The HDI is the geometric mean of normalized indices for each of the three dimensions. The full technical methodology to compile the HDI is described in a document published by the United Nations here: http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/hdr2018_technical_notes.pdf.

Data sources

The values used to calculate the value of St Helena’s HDI are given in Table 3, based on estimates calculated by St Helena’s statistical office.

Life expectancy at birth uses published estimates based on census data and statistics on deaths, smoothed using moving averages where appropriate.

GNI per capita estimates use published statistics, but data for GNI per capita for 2010-2013 are missing and have been interpolated using simple growth rates. Adjustments for purchasing power parity (PPP) have been made using a combination of the UK pound to US dollar PPP exchange rate published by the World Bank, and the St Helena pound to UK pound PPP exchange rate published in 2016 by the St Helena Statistics office.

Mean years of schooling estimates use data collected from the census for those aged 25 and older in 2016, adjusting the cohort for each year 2009-2017 (so for example the 2017 estimate uses those aged 24 and older in 2016).

Expected years of schooling is calculated as the sum of age-specific school enrolment rates in each year group. Nursery enrolment is assumed close to 100%, and enrolment in Year 1 to Year 11 (the compulsory years of schooling on St Helena) is assumed to be 100%. Years 12 and 13, and three years of tertiary, are based on enrolments in full-time education only.

Questions or comments?

Please get in touch: we are Neil Fantom, Statistical Commissioner, Justine Joshua and Stuart Moors, Senior Statistical Assistants, and Bertina Benjamin, Statistics Assistant. You can find us in person at the Statistics Office on the first floor of the Castle, Jamestown, at the back of the main courtyard. You can also contact us by telephone: our direct line is 22138 or via the Castle switchboard on 22470. If calling from overseas, the international dialling code for St Helena is +290. Our general office e-mail address is statistics@sainthelena.gov.sh, or you can email team members directly (the format is firstname.lastname@sainthelena.gov.sh).

This Bulletin presents updated and revised statistics of St Helena’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), following on from the previous release of provisional estimates for 2014/15 in the Quarterly Statistical News Bulletin of October 2016. The statistics and indicators presented in this Bulletin can be downloaded in Excel format from the ‘GDP’ file on the St Helena Statistics website at: www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-data.

Gross Domestic Product

Gross Domestic Product is a key indicator of economic activity used around the world: it measures the total value of all the goods and services produced on St Helena during a year. Table 1 presents estimates of GDP and other key indicators. For 2017/18, total GDP (at market prices i.e. including customs duties) is estimated to be £42.4 million and total GDP per capita is estimated to be £9,220.

GDP for 2014/15 is now estimated to have been £40.2 million, an upwards revision of £6.7 million compared to the previous published provisional estimate of £33.5 million. The revision to the provisional 2014/15 estimates is due to improved estimates of the activity involved in constructing the new airport, the value of owner-occupied housing, and the use of government capital (i.e. depreciation). The revision reflects the difficulty of measuring GDP in a small economy such as St Helena; in particular the impact of large one-off activities (such as the construction of the airport) and the dependence of St Helena’s economy on aid flows from abroad mean that trends and levels of GDP and associated indicators should be used with great caution. In addition, while the new estimates are improved, there are still considerable uncertainties in some of the data sources used in their compilation.

To measure the ‘real’ change in the size of the economy, (i.e. accounting for price inflation), St Helena’s Retail Price Index (RPI) has been used to measure GDP in 2017/18 constant market prices. For 2014/15, 2015/16 and 2017/18 it is measured at £44.2 million, £46.4 million, and £43.2 million respectively. These estimates give a positive annual growth rate in the overall domestic economy for 2015/16 of 5.1% (when airport construction was underway), a larger negative annual growth rate for 2016/17 (-7.1%) following completion of the majority of airport construction, and a smaller negative annual growth rate in 2017/18 (-1.7%), during the period when scheduled airport operations were starting (Chart 1). Using this method to take account of inflation indicates that size of the economy on St Helena was slightly smaller in 2017/18 than it was in 2014/15.

Per capita Gross Domestic Product

The size of an economy, measured using GDP, is influenced by the number of people that live there – large countries will typically have larger economies than smaller ones. For example, China has the second highest GDP in the world (the United States has the highest), some $12.3 trillion in 2017. But it also has the highest population in the world, some 1.39 billion people in 2017. So to provide an estimate of the size of the economy that can be compared with other countries, per capita estimates are used: total GDP, divided by the size of the population. For 2017/18, St Helena’s GDP per capita is estimated to be £9,220, or $12,230.

Compared to other countries, the four countries immediately below St Helena in the global ranking (using 2017 estimates for other countries) are Costa Rica, American Samoa, The Maldives, and Romania; and the four countries immediately above St Helena in the ranking are Palau, Croatia, Poland and Hungary (Chart 2). The country with the highest published GDP per capita in in 2017 was Luxembourg; the country with the lowest was Burundi. The GDP per capita of the United Kingdom in 2017 was $39,720.

Please note that these estimates do not account for purchasing power of different currencies in different economies; further work would be needed to accurately establish the purchasing power of the St Helena pound compared to the rest of the world. It is also important not to compare this figure with estimates of average wages or incomes; GDP measures the combined incomes of both companies and individuals, and GDP per capita estimates are expressed as a ratio to the whole population, including those both economically active and inactive.

Note: St Helena is 2017/18 financial year; all other countries are 2017 calendar year. Data source for other countries: World Bank, World Development Indicators (http://data.worldbank.org).

Sectoral breakdown of GDP

The 2017/18 estimate of GDP has been compiled using the ‘Production’ approach, which is the most common method in countries around the world, but which has not been used on St Helena previously. This approach calculates GDP as the total of ‘Gross Value Added’ for each sector in the economy, illustrated in Chart 3; the contribution of each sector is recorded in 2017/18 basic prices (i.e. excluding taxes on production and customs duties). Government Services contributed the most (£18.5 million, or 50%) with Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing contributing the least. Wholesale and Retail Trade (including Motor Vehicle Repair and Transport) is the second largest sector, contributing around 19% of total Gross Value Added.

Gross National Income

An alternative measure to GDP is called Gross National Income (GNI). GDP is a measure of the total goods and services produced within the territory of St Helena, and GNI is a measure of the value received of the goods and services produced by St Helena’s residents, regardless of where they produce those goods or deliver those services. GNI is derived from GDP, and it should be noted that there are considerable weaknesses in the additional data sources needed to compute GNI; the estimates should therefore be used with caution, and considered to be indicative only.

Chart 4 shows the nominal levels (i.e. without inflation adjustment) of GDP and GNI per capita. Over the four years 2014/15 to 2017/18, the difference between the two has narrowed; there was a larger gap between the two during airport construction, largely due to the non-resident nature of Basil Read, the South African company contracted by the St Helena Government to build the airport.

Notes and Methodology

Revisions: Please note that all estimates published in this bulletin should be considered to be provisional and subject to future revision as additional data sources and clarifications become available (the development of St Helena’s National Accounts is an ongoing program). This bulletin presents revised estimates for 2014/15.

Approach: There are three basic methods of compiling total GDP: the expenditure, income, and production approaches. Prior to 2016, St Helena published estimates based on the expenditure approach, and in 2016 a figure for 2014/15 was published based on the income approach. This Bulletin presents new estimates for 2017/18 based on the production approach, and estimates for 2014/15 to 2016/17 based on the income approach. As far as practicable in a small economy with limited resources, the compilation methods used follow the international guidance published in the ‘2008 System of National Accounts’ by the United Nations.

GDP at basic prices: The income approach estimates at basic prices are derived as the sum of total compensation of employees, the gross operating surplus of companies and non-profit institutions, an estimate of government depreciation, the incomes of sole traders, and an estimate of the rental value derived by households from the owner-occupation of their homes. The production approach estimates at basic prices are derived as the sum of the gross value added of companies, government expenditure, plus an estimate of government depreciation, the incomes of sole traders, and an estimate of the rental value derived by households from the owner-occupation of their homes.

GDP at market prices: For both the production and income approaches, GDP at market prices is derived by adding total import taxes on products and taxes on production to total GDP at basic prices.

Inflation adjustment: Estimates are presented in both nominal and real terms (referred to this bulletin as constant 2017/18 prices). Estimates in nominal terms will change due to both the effect of price changes and because of growth in the size of the economy. Changes in the size of the economy can only be measured using estimates expressed in real terms. Real terms estimates have been calculated using inflation estimates derived from St Helena’s Retail Price Index. It should be noted that this is not the usual recommended method (which is to use a special inflation estimate known as a GDP deflator). This is because the detailed price data needed to calculate a GDP deflator is not available, and because the GDP deflator calculations require GDP estimates derived using the production method – and 2017/18 is the first year that this has been done.

Measurement issues: There are significant measurement difficulties in estimating GDP and related indicators for St Helena. In some areas there are very limited (or no) sources to estimate some GDP components. For 2017/18, an improvement was to obtain data directly from larger companies using a set of questions added to the 2018 Business Survey. Additionally, the recommended measurement framework and concepts are not designed for measuring GDP in small, aid-dependent economies. Estimates are very sensitive to certain recording or classification conventions, which, while appropriate for larger economies, may distort trends and levels in smaller countries. There are further measurement difficulties in calculating GNI; in particular there are very limited data sources to estimate the income received from abroad by resident individuals and companies, and the income transferred abroad by non-resident individuals and companies (for the purpose of the GNI estimates presented in this bulletin, it has been assumed that the net income received from abroad by resident individuals is similar in size to the net income transferred abroad by non-residents).

Per capita estimates: For calculating per capita estimates of GDP and GNI, the population total used is the average of the end of month population estimates for the period, as published on the St Helena Government website.

Currency conversion: For converting from St Helena pounds (£) to United States dollars ($), the average daily spot rates published by the Bank of England have been used.

Data sources: The primary sources that have been used to compile GDP and related measures include the 2018 Business Survey, the 2017/18 Income Tax database, published company accounts, and population estimates published by the Statistics Office. Thanks are extended to all the companies and businesses that responded to the Business Survey, and to the Income Tax Office for their cooperation and help in using the data from tax returns for this purpose.

Technical advice and support: Compiling estimates of Gross Domestic Product and related National Accounts is a highly complex and specialised task which would not have been possible without technical advice and support to the St Helena Statistics Office from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) in the United Kingdom. Thanks are especially due to Jim O’Donoghue of the ONS Methodology Advisory Service for his expertise and patience.

Questions or comments?

Please get in touch: we are Neil Fantom, Statistical Commissioner, Justine Joshua and Stuart Moors, Senior Statistical Assistants, and Bertina Benjamin, Statistics Assistant. You can find us in person at the Statistics Office on the first floor of the Castle, Jamestown, at the back of the main courtyard. You can also contact us by telephone: our direct line is 22138 or via the Castle switchboard on 22470. If calling from overseas, the international dialling code for St Helena is +290. Our general office e-mail address is statistics@sainthelena.gov.sh, or you can email team members directly (the format is firstname.lastname@sainthelena.gov.sh).

This bulletin includes estimates of the latest annual price inflation rates for the first quarter of 2019, calculated from the Retail Price Index (RPI). The data released in this Bulletin, including the RPI itself, can be downloaded from the St Helena Statistics website at: www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-data.

Average annual current inflation rate

The latest rate of annual price inflation is estimated to be 4.1%, between the first quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2018. This is a 0.6 percentage point decrease from the rate in the previous quarter (Q4, 2018), when the annual price inflation rate was measured at 4.7% (see Chart 1).

Annual inflation rates of RPI categories

Compared to a year ago, average prices in all categories increased, except ‘Household Goods and Services’, which decreased slightly on average. On an annual basis, prices in the ‘Communication’ category saw the highest increase, up by 10.7% compared to a year ago because of the increase in the television and telephone tariffs that occurred during 2018. The category with the lowest annual rate was ‘Household goods and services’, where prices fell slightly, on average by 0.7%.

What went up and what went down?

Each quarter, the prices of some goods and services increase, some prices remain unchanged, and – less frequently – some prices fall. There are over 200 individual products and services in the RPI ‘shopping basket’, and compared to the previous quarter, this quarter around half of them went up in price, about 40% of them were unchanged in price, and the price of around 10% of items fell.

Prices of imported goods are affected by price inflation in the country of purchase (in St Helena’s case, this is usually either South Africa or the United Kingdom), the exchange rate of the St Helena pound compared to the South African Rand (if the pound gets stronger against the Rand, prices of South Africa goods in pounds will get cheaper), and other costs involved in importing goods, including freight rates and import taxes.

In the United Kingdom, price inflation is relatively low at 1.9% in February 2018, and in South Africa inflation in February was similar to St Helena, at 4.1%. Over the last year, the St Helena pound has strengthened considerably against the South African Rand; in February 2018, a St Helena pound bought 16.15 Rands on average, but in February 2019, the St Helena pound was worth 18.01 Rands – an 11.5% increase. This has the effect of making South African goods cheaper, offsetting some of the increases that may occur for other reasons (such as increasing freight rates).

Chart 3 shows the quarterly change in average prices of items in each category measured by the RPI; this is the percentage change in prices seen in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the last quarter of 2018 i.e. the change over a three-month period. ‘Alcohol and Tobacco’ and ‘Food’ were the two categories with the highest average price increase over the quarter; food products which increased in price included potatoes, cooking oil, pasta and porridge oats, with small decreases in price observed in a few items, including some milk products and rice. The ‘Transport’ category increased by just over 0.5%, which includes the 3.7% increase in the price of diesel fuel. There were no price changes at all observed in the ‘Communications’ category; prices of internet broadband packages and mobile phone packages were increased on 1 April 2019, which will be reflected in the inflation rates for Quarter 2 2019 (i.e. in the next statistical release). The price of household electricity was unchanged, but there was a small decrease in the price of bottled gas which had a small impact on the ‘household energy’ component.

What is price inflation?

Price inflation is the change in the average prices of goods and services over time. The rate of price inflation is calculated from the change in the Retail Price Index (RPI), which is the official measure of the average change in the prices of goods and services paid by consumers. The RPI is estimated each quarter, or once every three months, and the rate of price inflation is usually quoted on an annual basis; that is, comparing price changes over a twelve month period. Prices and the RPI tend to go up, but they can occasionally go down – which is price deflation.

Why do we measure inflation?

An accurate measure of price inflation helps understand the extent and nature of the impact of price changes on the government, businesses, households and individuals.

How is the RPI calculated?

The basis for the RPI is the average weekly cost of goods and services purchased by households on St Helena, sometimes called the ‘shopping basket’. Items which households purchase more of, such as food, have the biggest share of the RPI basket. The current RPI uses a basket from the latest Household Expenditure Survey in 2017; prices of the items in the basket are collected every quarter, and the price of the total basket is compared to the price in the baseline period, the first quarter of 2018. By convention, the value of the basket in the baseline period is scaled to 100, and the RPI values are quoted in relation to that baseline. For example, an RPI value of 120 means that average prices have increased by 20 per cent compared to those recorded in the baseline period.

What happens when items are not available?

If an item of the ‘basket’ is not available then either the previous price will be carried forward from the previous quarter, or a suitable substitute item will be identified and an adjustment calculation made. Care is taken to ensure that this substitute item represents the item category and that it does not introduce error to the measurement of the RPI. An important principle is that price changes should reflect actual price increases, and not changes in the quality of items.

Where can I get the data?

For detailed tables of the RPI and annual inflation rates from 1994 onwards, please visit: www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-data and download the ‘inflation’ data file. Other datasets, bulletins and reports are also available on our website: http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics.

Have more questions or comments?

Please get in touch: we are Neil Fantom, Statistical Commissioner, Stuart Moors and Justine Joshua, Senior Statistical Assistants, and Bertina Benjamin, Statistical Assistant. You can find us in person at the Statistics Office on the first floor of the Castle, Jamestown, at the back of the main courtyard. You can also contact us by telephone: our direct line is 22138 or via the Castle switchboard on 22470. If calling from overseas, the international dialling code for St Helena is +290. Our general office e-mail address is statistics@sainthelena.gov.sh, or you can email team members directly (the format is firstname.lastname@sainthelena.gov.sh).

Several statistical updates have been released on March 29, 2019 as follows:

Benefits, up to February 2019

Exchange rates, up to February 2019

External Trade, up to Quarter 4 2018

Additional statistical series and indicators are available at  http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-data, and published statistical reports, including Statistical Bulletins, can be found on the statistics reports and publications page of the SHG website: http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-reports-and-publications.

We welcome comments and suggestions on any of the statistics published by the Statistics Office. Please email: statistics@sainthelena.gov.sh, call tel: 22138, or visit the office in person on the second floor of the Castle, Jamestown.