Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the economic cluster will submit to the Office of the President a draft EO that was agreed upon during a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
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EO to address inflation out soon — Palace
Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - September 13, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang is readying an executive order (EO) that will remove the administrative constraints and non-tariff barriers on importation of fish, rice, sugar, meat and vegetables in a bid to cushion the impact of inflation on basic goods.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the economic cluster will submit to the Office of the President a draft EO that was agreed upon during a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

“This only means the process of importing food will be made simpler,” Roque said.

Despite criticisms for being insensitive, Roque maintained the 6.4 percent inflation rate was still OK because it was only for the month of August and that the average was 4.8 percent.

The top contributors to inflation include tobacco, operation of personal transport equipment, fish and seafood, vegetables, non-alcoholic beverages, electricity and fuel, rice and house rentals.

The Palace official noted tobacco registered the highest increase at 25.9 percent but that it was not bad “because we’re trying to discourage people from smoking.”

No to sugar importation

In Negros, agrarian reform beneficiaries and sugar producers are up in arms against sugar importation being included among the measures to curb inflation.

They are asking President Duterte to ignore recommendations from his economic managers to import sugar.

Enrique Tayo, chairman of the Negros Occidental Federation of Farmers Association, said they are hoping the President will hear their appeal as “sugar importation at this time when the milling season just started will depress sugar prices once again.”

Tayo said there are over 100,000 agrarian reform beneficiaries in Negros Occidental alone who are slowly recovering from the loss the industry incurred in the past two years.

“This plan to allow open importation of sugar will depress sugar prices again and we may not be able to survive another crisis,” Tayo said.

The groups said the economic leaders must see for themselves what is happening and refrain from making recommendations without consultations.

Oil price discounts

More oil companies, meanwhile, are offering fuel price discounts to public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers to help them cope with rising prices, the Department of Energy (DOE) said.

Following consultation meetings, 10 oil companies with a total of 1,317 participating retail stations are now offering discounts from P1 to P3 to PUVs.

These are Chevron Philippines Inc. (Caltex), Filpride, Jetti Petroleum, Petron Corp., Phoenix Petroleum Philippines Inc., PTT Philippines Corp., Seaoil Philippines Inc., Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., Total Philippines and Unioil Petroleum Philippines Inc., the agency said.

Earlier this year, the DOE asked the oil companies to provide fuel discounts to PUVs through their corporate social responsibility programs to cushion the impact of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.

Rice problems

Roque also assured the public that the country has sufficient rice and the 4.6 million sacks of rice available at National Food Authority (NFA) warehouses will be released immediately.

He added there are about two million sacks of rice that will arrive before the end of this month and that the NFA Council approved the importation of five million sacks that will be available over the next one and a half  months. – With Gilbert Bayoran, Ramon Efren Lazaro, Emmanuel Tupas, Danessa Rivera, Edu Punay

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