The 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.
Tags: Roni Santiago