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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (March 8, 1999 – Samoa News)---According to the American Samoa Consumer Price Index (CPI) report released by the Department of Commerce, the Alcohol and Tobacco

Group received the highest increase in the last quarter of 1998, due to a price increase of about 50% from suppliers for cigarettes and the excise taxes of 250% imposed by the government last year.

However, industry observers are expecting to see a further increase this year, following a price increase implemented by cigarette manufactures that went into effect last year and early this year.

For the overall average retail prices of cigarettes in 1998, brand names Benson and Kools sold at $2.64 a pack, compared to 1997 average prices of $2.22 for Benson and $2.02 for Kools.

Average beer retail prices, according to the CPI, show Budweiser (12 fl. oz.) for 1998 at $1.20 compared to $1.14 in 1997, with Vailima (750 ml.) at $1.90 in 1997 to $2.26 in 1998.

The CPI report also states that the Food Group increased in the last quarter of 1998, which was due to higher prices for meats, poultry and vegetables. For example, third quarter prices for 1997 were $1.00 a pound compared to $1.08 during the fourth quarter.

Although the average price for sausage remained the same during the third and fourth quarter of 1998, the average retail price for sausage in 1997 was 94 cents a pound compared to $1.22 a pound in 1998.

The Housing Group, which includes fuel and utility costs, construction and materials and other household items decreased due to lower fuel surcharges for both electric and water.

There were no changes in the Clothing Group for the last quarter. The Transportation Group, however, decreased for the same quarter due to a drop in car maintenance. The Miscellaneous group recorded a reduction of 4%, due to lower costs of stationary and toiletries.

The American Samoa Consumer Price Index (CPI) is designed to measure changes in the prices of commodities and services normally purchased by the consuming public.

The American Samoa CPI (similar to the U.S. CPI) is based on the concept of a representative "market basket," a sampling of goods and services that the consumer normally purchases.

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