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Be ready should  high inflation hit us again




E CARTOON JUN 13, 2019The day after Bangko Sentral Governor Benjamin Diokno said the target inflation rate this year is beween 2 and 4 percent, with the rate in the vicinity of 2 percent in the third quarter  of this year (July-August-September),  the Philippine Statistics Authority  PSA) came out with some worrying  news.

Prices of food, non-alcoholic  beverages, housing, water, electricity, and fuel products increased in May for the first  time in six months, the PSA reported. From 3 percent in April, the inflation rate  rose to 3.2 percent  in May. Vegetables registered  the biggest price acceleration  at 12.5 percent, followed by  fruits at 4.6 percent,  and fish at 4.2 percent.

We are still way off last year’s inflation rate, which was 4.5 percent at this time in June, 2018. We recall how the rate steadily increased,  so that it was 5.7 percent in July, 6.4 percent  in August,  and finally 6.7percent in September. Those months of high and steadily increasing prices in 2018 are a period in our history which we hope we will not have to repeat.

This  is why we urge the government to pay the closest possible  attention to market prices and  be ready to take steps to stop any inordinate increase.   We also  urge the government  to plan and take steps this early to help the poorest  among us  with all possible kinds of economic help.

Our poorest families now have the  Pantawid Pilipino Pamilya Program (PPPP) which provides monetary educational, health, and nutrition help from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). When market prices start rising, however, many more families  than  the PPPP beneficiaries  get to suffer.

At the start of this year’s school  season,  Sen. Imee Marcos called on the Department of Trade and Industry  to roll out  Kadiwa  Stores, in partnership with private businessmen,  to provide low-cost school supplies and the suspension of  the Value-Added Tax (VAT) on all school supplies.

The Kadiwa stores are among the better projects of the old Marcos administration, providing basic household needs at low cost. The next time, prices start  rising  inordinately again as they did last year, the government might consider them as a means to reach out and help the poorer folk among us.

In 2018, high global oil prices combined with a sinking peso value, a new law imposing a P2 tariff on imported fuel, and price  manipulation  by some businessmen to raise inflation to great heights. We hope we will not have to  go through that trial again and the government  must  take care that its new tax proposals do not help push prices upward as they did last year.

Should  we again  see signs of steadily  rising inflation this year,  our government  economic managers should be ready with  emergency assistance programs for  all, especially for the poorest among us.


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