Recording the lowest since September 2022, the Philippine inflation rate eased to 7.6% in March from 8.6% in February 2023, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
Prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages drove the downtrend of overall inflation, followed by transport and costs in housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels. National food inflation dropped to 9.5% from 11.1%, retaining the lower annual growth in the index of some vegetables, meat, and sugar.
While overall inflation observed a dip, core inflation, which excludes selected food and energy items, increased to 8% from 7.8% in February 2023.
Inflation in the National Capital Region (NCR) dropped, while all regions outside NCR posted lower inflation rates except the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). Moreover, inflation in the bottom 30% of income households slowed from 9.7% to 8.8%.
“The direction is going down, but of course, we want to bring down the inflation of the bottom 30% to a lower level,” PSA Undersecretary Dennis Mapa said, as the recorded rate is still higher than 4.2% in March 2022.
“It’s now going down,… ang challenge dito is that we want to bring it down further.”
Mapa explained that the only way to bring inflation down for the most impacted households is to make sure that food items, which consume most of their baskets, have low inflation.
Overall inflation in March 2023 corresponds with the forecast of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP). Despite the ease, BSP warned that “weaker-than-expected global economic recovery” remains the primary concern to curb inflation in the country.
‘Paminawon pud tung gagmay’
“Dapat ibaba ang mga presyo kay luoy kayo atong mga gagmay nga mag-uuma,” said Quiling Alibango, a 67 year old local farmer from Calinan, Davao City.
Alibango is a producer of rice, fruits, vegetables, and livestock. In an interview with Atenews, she revealed the impact of inflation on small farmers in the city.
“Apektado gyud mi kung naa sa palengke namo dalhon.”
Alibango, along with other farmers in Rizal Park, continues to sell and decide the prices of harvested goods in the market. For livestock such as chicken and pig, she revealed that prices are too low when brought to the market.
“Pero dili pud na mumahal,” she said.
“Luoy man pud kayo tung mga gagmay nga mag-uuma, tung walang-wala intawon na nagapuyo diha sa siyudad, unsaon nalang nila pagkaon?”
Alibango asks the government to provide support for farmers hit by inflation. “Tabang lang suporta pinansyal, mga gamit among gamiton sa uma, labi na sa gardening,” she said.
Exposing the disparity in government assistance provided to farmers, Alibango said that those occupying big areas are more likely to get support than small farmers who need help acquiring materials for farming. For her, it’s difficult to understand the lack of support towards small farmers.
“Ug naa may gali tabang, mga pinisik nalang. Di gyud pareha kadtong mga dagkong corporation… buhos tanan ang mga tabang.”
She further explained that farmers protest due to the government not listening to their needs and requests. “Maghugpong jud ang mga mag-uuma pasibaw sa ilang mga gidahom.”
“Paminawon pud tung gagmay, ug paminawon pud ang dagko, para patas gani,” Alibango requested.
Gov’t measures to ‘fight high inflation’
Subsequent to recent developments on the economy, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno announced the creation of the Interagency Committee on Inflation and Market Outlook (IAC-IMO) as a “proactive measure to fight high inflation.”
In a press conference held April 4, Diokno said the IAC-IMO serves as an advisory body to the Economic Development Group (EDG) on measures that would keep inflation within the government’s targets.
“In the past, the reaction of the government [to inflation] has been ad hoc… Now, we are introducing more systematic methodology,” he said.
The IAC-IMO is co-chaired by the Department of Finance (DOF), with the National Economic and Development Authority as chairperson and the Department of Budget and Management as vice-chairperson.
Committee members include the Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy, Department of Science and Technology, and Department of Trade and Industry.
“What we need is information… so that appropriate interventions or policy responses can be undertaken proactively,” DOF Undersecretary Zeno Abenoja explained.
“The Interagency Committee will look at all these drivers of inflation. We will also tap into research institutions so that both supply and demand conditions will be analyzed during the course of the year.”
Abenoja bid that more hard data would aid in identifying possible disruptions in the supply chain of commodities.
“That’s how we think the IAC will improve the way we respond to policy pressures.”
This article was published in the April 2023 Issue of Atenews. Read it here: https://issuu.com/atenews/docs/atenews_2023_tabloid