March 4, 2022 – The Philippine government stands ready to help Filipinos from the economic impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said.

As reported by the Philippine Statistics Authority today, the country’s headline inflation rate remained at 3.0 percent in February 2022. This is below the median analyst forecast of 3.3 percent for this month.

In particular, food inflation decreased to 1.1 percent in February from 1.6 percent in January. This was driven by slower inflation rates for meat, at 1.4 percent from 4.3 percent, and fish, at 2.9 percent from 6.2 percent. However, corn inflation significantly increased to 31.3 percent from an already elevated 27.7 percent.

On the other hand, non-food inflation increased to 4.1 percent in February from 3.8 percent in January, mostly due to rising oil prices.

Specifically, electricity, gas, and other fuels for household inflation accelerated to 12.8 percent, and private transport inflation increased to 29.8 percent.

In contrast, public transport inflation remained muted at 0.9 percent as fares are regulated.

Despite the stable inflation rate, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said that commodity prices are increasing amid the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. To address this, Chua said that the government will use its available resources to provide targeted subsidies to the affected sectors.

He added that the government will continue its efforts to increase food supply by helping farmers improve their productivity and importing, when necessary, to fill supply gaps.

“Prices of commodities, such as oil, wheat, and corn, are going up as demand outpaces supply. That is why we need to proactively manage the impact on the people through these two measures,” Chua said.

In a statement last February 24, the Development Budget Coordination Committee affirmed that the government is preparing to release PHP 2.5 billion for the Fuel Subsidy Program that covers drivers of jeeps, buses, UV express, transport network vehicle services, and tricycles.

In addition, the Department of Agriculture has a budget of PHP 500 million to provide assistance through fuel discounts to farmers and fisherfolk who either individually own and operate agricultural and fishery machinery, or operate through a farmers organization or cooperative.

NEDA also strongly supports the proposed livestock development and competitiveness bill to help improve the efficiency of the entire value chains for the livestock, poultry, and dairy sectors. These will help ensure the adequate and affordable supply of these food products in spite of rising input prices.

Moreover, to help insulate the economy from external shocks from the Russia-Ukraine crisis, Chua reiterated the importance of shifting the entire country to alert level 1 and fully resuming face-to-face learning.

NEDA estimates that shifting the entire country to alert level 1 will generate an estimated PHP 16 billion of economic activity per week and will translate to 297,000 less unemployed over the next quarter. On top of this, the full resumption of face-to-face learning can increase economic activity by PHP 12 billion per week due to the return of services around schools such as transport, dormitories, food stalls, and school supplies stores, among others.

“We need to move the entire country to alert level 1 and fully reopen schools as soon as possible. This will enable more people to earn income and strengthen our domestic economy amid upward price pressures due to global political tensions,” he said.

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