NEDA says gov’t ready to address inflation

The government has taken steps to address the inflationary pressures brought about by the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said.


The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported recently that headline inflation increased to 4 percent in March 2022 from 3 percent in the previous month.


The reported inflation rate is in line with the median analyst forecast of 4 percent and is within the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ forecast range of 3.3 to 4.1 percent.


The year-to-date inflation rate of 3.4 percent also remains within the 2 percent to 4 percent target range for the year.


“We have been proactively monitoring the impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. As early as March 7, the Economic Development Cluster (EDC) has already proposed interventions to manage the impact on the economy and the people,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said.


Higher inflation rates for both food and non-food commodity groups resulted in faster inflation for March 2022.


Food inflation increased to 2.8 percent from 1.1 percent in February.


Notably, corn inflation remained high at 31.3 percent in March 2022 as global conflicts further constrained the world corn supply.


Increases in the inflation rates for flour and bread, meat, fish, vegetables, and sugar also contributed to the faster food inflation.


Meanwhile, non-food inflation rose to 5 percent in March 2022 from 4.1 percent in the previous month, mostly due to elevated oil prices.


Transport inflation also increased to 10.3 percent from 8.8 percent.


The EDC’s policy interventions to manage supply and prices of key commodities include expanding supply and reducing prices of pork by extending the lower tariff of 15 percent in quota and 25 percent out quota with minimum access volume of 200,000 metric tons until December 2022; accelerating the release of imported pork from cold storages; passing the proposed Livestock Development and Competitiveness Law and pursuing the livestock value chain reform to address rising corn and feeds prices; accelerating the release of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearance from the National Meat Inspection Service's cold storage warehouses to push up chicken inventory, and removing all non-tariff barriers.


Additionally, over 158,000 corn farmers and fisherfolk registered under the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture are also set to receive P3,000 as fuel subsidy.


To cushion the impact of rising prices, Chua said the government will distribute unconditional cash transfers worth P500 per month to the poorest 50 percent of households.


Moreover, around 115,000 public utility vehicle drivers and operators have received PHP6,500 each under the Pantawid Pasada program.


“The government stands ready to support consumers, commuters, public transport drivers and operators, and agricultural producers to ease the impact of high oil and commodity prices. As Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) cases subside, we also aim to move the entire country to alert level 1 to provide more opportunities for Filipinos to earn and provide for their families amid inflationary pressures,” Chua added. (PR)