MANILA/JAKARTA – The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) highlights the government’s subsidy programs and its interventions to transform the country’s farming and food systems to ease the impact of global inflationary pressures and protect the purchasing power of Filipinos.
The Philippine Statistics Authority reported today that the country’s inflation rate eased slightly to 6.3 percent in August 2022 from 6.4 percent in the previous month. This is within the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ forecast range of 5.9 to 6.7 percent for the month, while year-to-date inflation picked up to 4.9 percent.
Inflation in neighboring Southeast Asian countries has been mostly in the uptrend with Thailand recording its new 14-year high at 7.86 percent in August 2022. Singapore also recorded its fastest pace in more than 13 years with headline inflation at 7 percent in July 2022. This is brought about by the uneven recovery of countries and inefficient supply chains, and further exacerbated by the extended Russia-Ukraine war.
“Recovery is uneven within countries and across countries, and this results in very inefficient supply chains. This is expected to be temporary as markets transition to find the new balance between supply and demand. The situation is made worse by the protracted Russia-Ukraine war, and the country’s weather disturbances particularly La Niña. These serve to magnify the low productivity in our agricultural sector, which needs to be supported immediately,” NEDA Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said.
“It is our top priority to ensure that Filipino households have sufficient and healthy food on their table, especially the poorer sector of the society. We will continue implementing programs that reduce transport and logistics costs to bring inflation down and to protect the purchasing power of our consumers. Most importantly, it is imperative to transform Philippine agriculture into a dynamic and productive sector to speed up our recovery and significantly reduce poverty in the country,” Balisacan added.
In the country, inflation of food and non-alcoholic beverages was partly offset by the slower inflation of meat, fish, and vegetables. This is due to the various interventions put in place by the government including improvements in the local pork production and timely import arrival of pork.
To boost domestic supply, the government will continue to support the agriculture sector through lower input costs, innovation in farming, extension of financial assistance to farmers, and boosting the agricultural value chain.
“In the short-term, we need to boost our recovery momentum, while making sure that the most disadvantaged sectors of the country are assisted. Simultaneously, we need to invest in medium-term solutions to improve productivity, especially in agriculture, and build resilience among consumers and producers,” the NEDA chief added.
The global oil outlook remains uncertain amid the slowdown in major economies and other geopolitical risks.
To temper the effect of the high fuel prices, the government is providing fuel discounts to farmers and fisherfolk. More than 158,000 eligible farmers and fisherfolk are each set to receive PhP 3,000 as fuel discounts to help cushion the impact of higher fuel prices. As of August 17, 2022, a total of 131,145 accounts for target beneficiaries have been created nationwide, 120,827 accounts of which were already loaded with fuel discounts and 42,084 cards have already been distributed to corn farmers and fisherfolk nationwide.
Furthermore, the Department of Budget and Management has approved the release of PhP 1.4 billion additional funds to support the extension of the Libreng Sakay Program for all the passengers of the EDSA Bus Carousel until year end. This will support up to 50 million riders, including workers as well as students who are back to face-to-face schooling.
“The government remains committed to taking swift and decisive action to ensure Filipinos can cope with the higher cost of living. This is done by providing targeted subsidies and ensuring unhampered supply of goods and services despite the rising global oil prices,” said Balisacan.