By Ben Rosario
SASMUAN, Pampanga – Former president and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo Friday aired confidence that recent increases in fuel prices will not trigger a return to high inflation rates experienced by the country at the end of 2018.
However, Arroyo urged the government to immediately implement anti-inflationary measures to avert an unwelcome inflation rate, saying that more economic activity is necessary.
Noted for her sound economic policies as president, Arroyo stressed that government should now pursue measures to ease doing business in the country.
“The policies are good, the important thing is for the implementation to be speedy,” she said.
Fears of a return of high inflation rates were aired by various sectors following recent hikes in fuel prices.
A week after celebrating New Year, oil companies implemented adjustments in fuel costs.
This was followed by another round of price hikes, this time triggered by the implementation of the second tranche of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law under the Duterte administration.
Arroyo said the Lower House will do its share in softening further the inflation rates.
“The reason why we want our oversight is going to be in regard to ease of doing business so there would be more production,” she explained.
“In general, to the extent that so-called domestic supply side factors are involved, the government’s agencies must act quickly on the implementation side, to get the plans and programs going on the ground and produce results our people will feel in their day to day lives,” she stated.
Meanwhile, Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Ariel Casilao blamed Duterte’s policy on liberalization of agriculture for the bankruptcy experienced by Benguet vegetable farmers and rice farmers in South Cotabato.
Casilao said Duterte has allowed the private sector to dominate the market and distribution, thus, putting farmers in a precarious economic situation.
“This could have been an opportunity for the Duterte government to ease rising retail prices of agricultural products to benefit poor sectors, but it pushed through its callousness via liberalization of agriculture, thus, farmers from Benguet, South Cotabato, and certainly also from other provinces are facing unsurvivable bankruptcy,” Casilao said.
Earlier, Benguet farmers cited that though farmgate prices are as low as P18 per kilogram, retail prices are at high as P60 per kilogram, all due to about six to eight layers of middlemen.
Ultimately, retail prices are about triple of the farm gate prices.
While in South Cotabato, rice farmers are ailing on the farm gate prices as low as P14 per kilogram and they blame it on the entry of imported rice in the local market.
“We are witnessing how profit-hungry ‘private sector,’ are keeping prices high, contributing to the general increase of the inflation rates, and on the production side, farmers are bearing the brunt of the flooding of imported rice, the Duterte government should have been discerning enough that its policy is detrimental to the national food security or the country’s capacity to produce our own food,” said Casilao.