Legarda: Prices of Goods to Stabilize Soon, Economic Team Assures

September 14, 2018

Senator Loren Legarda today said that she was assured by the administration’s economic team that prices of goods and services will soon stabilize following measures being undertaken by the government.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, was briefed by Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Ernesto Pernia, and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy Governor Francisco Dakila, Jr. on the causes of the spike in inflation rate and the measures the government is taking to stabilize inflation expectations.

Figures from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that inflation rate in June 2018 was 5.2%; it jumped to 5.7% in July, and further increased to 6.4% in August.

“We tried to analyze the causes of food and transport inflation and even the depreciation of peso. We also factored in the effects of monsoon rains and drought, as well as issues in the world market and prices of oil. There are interventions being made in terms of policy and executive action,” said Legarda.

Among the interventions cited by the economic team include the immediate release of 4.6 million sacks of rice available in National Food Authority (NFA) warehouses to the market across the country. The economic managers also urged the Senate to immediately pass the Rice Tariffication Bill within the month.

Meanwhile, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), NFA, Philippine National Police (PNP), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and farmer groups will form a monitoring team for surveillance of rice from ports to NFA warehouses and retail outlets.

To reduce the gap between the farm gate and retail prices of chicken, the Department of Agriculture (DA) and DTI will convene poultry producers and setup public markets where producers can sell directly to the end customer.

The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) will open importation of sugar to direct users to moderate cost to consumers; while the Bureau of Customs will prioritize the release of essential food items in the ports.

“All the causes of inflation will be addressed. Soon, there should be better supply of goods. But we should also ensure that prices are controlled. We should counter hoarding and profiteering, and there should be stricter monitoring of prices to prevent unscrupulous individuals from manipulating the prices of goods,” said Legarda.

On the issue of rice shortage, Legarda said that the government has imported rice to address this.

The NFA Council is expecting approximately 2 million sacks of rice previously contracted to be delivered before the end of September and it also authorized the importation of 5 million sacks that will be arriving over the next one and half months, and another 5 million sacks to be imported early next year.

But the Senator stressed that the government must address rice wastage to lessen the need to import rice, noting that 800,000 metric tons of milled rice is wasted due to improper handling, transport and storage.

“There should be a designated authority or task force to address this wastage. If we can reduce even half of rice wastage, it would mean less importation as well,” Legarda said.

Legarda added that she will also see if the solutions to inflation, especially on food, are being addressed in the National Expenditure Program for 2019 so that we would prevent the same scenario next year.