DECEMBER 4, 2020 – Transport services, as well as agricultural products such as meat and vegetables, are the top contributors to November 2020 inflation. This is due to the restrictions on public transport as a result of COVID-19, persistence of African Swine Fever, and damage and losses in high value crops following the onslaught of several typhoons and flooding in November 2020, said the National Economic and Development Authority.

The country’s inflation accelerated to 3.3 percent in November 2020 from 2.5 percent last month and 1.3 percent in the same period last year, bringing the year-to-date (YTD) inflation to 2.6 percent. The YTD inflation remains well below the midpoint of the central bank’s full-year target of 2 to 4 percent for 2020.

The faster inflation in November 2020 was mainly driven by the increase in the price index of food. Food inflation accelerated to 4.5 percent in November from 2.1 percent in October following weather disturbances.

Based on the latest estimates of the Department of Agriculture (DA) as of 27 November 2020, the combined amount of damage and losses to the agriculture sector brought by typhoons Ofel, Nika, Pepito, Quinta, Rolly, and Ulysses amounted to PHP 15.3 billion. Among the regions, Bicol was the most affected, followed by CALABARZON, Cagayan Valley, and Central Luzon.

“Our experience with the recent typhoons has highlighted the need for long-term engineering interventions, reforestation, and coordinated flood management systems across different LGUs and the need to intensify the distribution of climate-resilient technologies and other production support assistance to mitigate production loss in the agriculture sector,” said Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua.

The NEDA chief added that the Quick Response Fund (QRF) can also be utilized to repair and rehabilitate production facilities and irrigation systems damaged by the recent typhoons.

Meanwhile, inflation for transport services has remained elevated in the last six months, as a result of social distancing directives and reduced passenger capacities in all modes of public transport.

Chua noted the need to revisit our public transport system guidelines and for LGUs and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) to monitor and review prevailing and unwarranted fare increases in public transport as we gradually reopen the economy and allow more public transport, while still reinforcing the “seven commandments” of safe public transportation.

The seven commandments include:

  1. Magsuot ng face mask at face shield;
  2. Bawal ang pagsasalita, pakikipag-usap o pagsagot ng telepono;
  3. Bawal kumain;
  4. Kailangang may sapat na ventilation;
  5. Kailangang may frequent disinfection;
  6. Bawal magsakay ng symptomatic passenger; and
  7. Kinakailangang sumunod sa appropriate physical distancing.

“To help ease the burden on public transport operators and drivers who have been adversely affected by the lockdowns, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) may also consider waiving some regulatory fees as well as expanding the efficient service contracting mechanism to incentivize continued operations and encourage even more public utility vehicles (PUV) to resume operations, given the reduced load capacity in adherence to minimum health standards,” Chua added.