Stats NZ revises up third-quarter inflation after underestimating ACC car licensing fees

ACC chief executive Scott Pickering

New Zealand's consumer prices rose at a faster pace than reported in the September quarter, with Statistics NZ discovering it mucked up the way it calculated Accident Compensation Corp's motor vehicle licensing fees in the period.

The consumers price index rose 0.3% in the three months ended September 30, above the 0.2% pace originally reported on October 18, which was itself above Reserve Bank expectations for a 0.1% increase. The annual pace was revised up to 0.4%, twice the 0.2% annual pace reported last month, and closer to the bottom of the Reserve Bank's 1-3 percent target band.

"The changes were required to correct a manual processing error discovered by Statistics NZ. The error affected prices for vehicle relicensing fees, within the transport group," the government department said in a statement. "Statistics NZ is confident that the correction only affects the September 2016 quarter index numbers, as it occurred in our measurement of lower ACC levies for light vehicles that came into effect during the quarter."

The government department has already told the Reserve Bank, which issues its monetary policy statement shortly and the Treasury, which is preparing the half-year economic and fiscal update.

"Following our protocols for errors, Statistics NZ has decided to correct the CPI now to ensure our customers have the best possible information to inform their decisions," it said.

The revision means prices for the transport sector shrank 1.9% in the quarter, not the 3% originally reported, for an annual decline of 5.6% as opposed to 6.7%. The transport sector was the biggest drag on prices in the quarter due largely to the reduction in vehicle relicensing fees that kicked in on July 31. Cheap petrol and new and used cars have also been weighing on the sector.


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