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Kudos to the Duterte gov't! Solons laud easing of PH inflation

Solons laud easing of PH inflation
By Jose Cielito Reganit
MANILA -- Two lawmakers at the House of Representatives on Friday welcomed the continuing downward trend of inflation rate in the country, which marked its fifth consecutive month of slowdown this March to 3.3 percent, the lowest since January 2018.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the inflation rate in March was slower than the 3.8 percent in February. The inflation rate in March 2018 was 4.3 percent.

Leyte Rep. Henry Ong “congratulated” President Rodrigo Duterte’s economic team for the feat, as he noted that "the government has been working hard to rein in inflation since the middle of 2017" -- when rice supply problems drove inflation rates to as high as 6.7 percent in October 2018.

The chair of the House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries challenged the economic team to aim for an inflation rate of 2.4 percent, the rate the country had back in July 2017.

"The 2.4 percent we had in July 2017 is the proper benchmark, since that was just before rice supply problems reared its ugly head and sent prices soaring until late 2018,” Ong said.

Relatively, the Leyte lawmaker said he is keenly awaiting the National Food Authority (NFA) Council’s implementing rules on the Rice Tariffication Law since the resulting quota-free importation of rice is touted by economic managers as crucial in further bringing inflation rate down.

"Economic managers told Congress rice prices could fall by as much as PHP7 at retail and at least PHP10 billion was assured for the Rice Fund as safety net for farmers. I will hold them accountable for that pitch they used to make Congress approve the removal of rice import quotas," Ong said.

With El Niño affecting the country, he also urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) to ensure that the Rice Fund reaches its intended beneficiaries.

According to the DA, at least PHP3.5 billion worth of crops have been devastated by drought as of the end of March this year.

"With the adverse impact of drought on harvests this summer, it would be prudent for the Agriculture Department to make sure the PHP 10 billion is ready in time for the next planting season. Not part of that Rice Fund are funds for drought relief, so the DA and other agencies should source those relief funds from elsewhere," Ong said.

Akbayan Partylist Rep. Tom Villarin shared Ong’s sentiments.

“The lowering of inflation is a boon to consumers badly hit by high prices of goods,” he said.

However, the lawmaker said that government must immediately act to mitigate the effects of El Niño and the open importation policy on rice farmers.

“There's always a downside to measures that bring down prices. A drop in domestic agricultural production is one of them, unless government mitigates its effect immediately,” Villarin said. (PNA)

Kudos to the Duterte gov't! Solons laud easing of PH inflation Kudos to the Duterte gov't! Solons laud easing of PH inflation Reviewed by AsianPolicy.Press on 2:28:00 AM Rating: 5

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