September 7, 2021

PH bolsters food-price relief and inflation-control measures

The government will continue to maintain a steady food supply in order to lower fish, vegetable, and pork prices and manage recent inflationary pressures, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

The headline inflation rate rose to 4.9 percent in August from 4.0 percent in July, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

This is at the high end of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ August 2021 projection range of 4.1 to 4.9 percent.

Despite this rise, year-to-date inflation is still at 4.4 percent.

Inflation in the food sector continued to rise in August, reaching 6.9% from 5.1 percent in July.

Due to the effect of the southwest monsoon and the start of the rainy season, fish inflation increased to 12.4 percent from 9.3 percent, while vegetable inflation increased to 15.7 percent from 5.0 percent.

Inflationary pressures on meat rose slightly in August, rising to 16.4 percent from 16 percent in July.

Meat inflation, on the other hand, has slowed to -0.4 percent month over month, indicating some price stabilization.

Following the issue of Executive Order Nos. 133 and 134, retail prices of frozen and fresh pork have dropped by approximately PHP19 to PHP38 per kilo from their high.

Following the issue of EO No. 135, rice inflation remained negative at -0.4 percent year on year.

“We’re starting to see the results of our proactive efforts to lower food costs, particularly pork and rice. In the face of the epidemic, the government will continue to adapt and enhance measures to guarantee that people have access to cheap food,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is also ramping up its hog repopulation effort to close the supply gap in domestic production and combat rising pork prices.

Meanwhile, the DA issued Administrative Order No. 22, authorizing a Certificate of Necessity to Import (CNI) fish of 60,000 metric tons until December 31, 2021, in order to maintain a steady fish supply.

Should the first imports not be enough to keep seafood inflation in check, the DA plans to raise the CNI. This is part of the government’s proactive monitoring to guarantee enough supply and stable pricing during the fishing season closure.

The government will encourage urban agriculture and backyard gardening to boost vegetable output.

The government will support these efforts by providing raw materials, machinery, and equipment, as well as training and technical help, resilience projects, and financing.

As granular lockdowns are enforced to combat the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) owing to the Delta variant, Chua said that the nation should continue to allow critical sectors of the economy to function and guarantee that necessary products and services reach customers.

“Making transportation accessible and cheap while adhering to basic public health standards would aid in the flow of people, commodities, and services. All of this will enable individuals to make money in a secure manner while maintaining price stability,” he said.

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