Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez at NEDA Director General Ernesto Pernia lead the country's economic team.
Economic managers working on price stability amid rising inflation
(Philstar.com) - October 5, 2018 - 11:19am

MANILA, Philippines — The country's economic managers assured the public that they working to temper the rise in the prices of commodities despite the 6.7 percent inflation in September.

The Philippine Statistics Authority announced that the country's headline inflation went up by 0.3 percentage points from the 6.4 percent in August.

"We remain committed to our goal of ensuring price stability, along with our overarching aim of translating sustained broad-based economic growth to comfortable lives for everyone," the Department of Finance, National Economic and Development Authority, and the Department of Budget and Management said in a joint statement.

The economic team noted that the latest inflation rate is slightly lower that the median market expectation of 6.8 percent but within the range of the 6.3 to 7.1 percent forecast of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

The onslaught of Typhoon Ompong mainly contributed to the increase in food prices as it disrupted supply in the Ilocos, Cagayan and Cordillera regions.

The typhoon's damage to agriculture, including facilities and infrastructure, have reached P26.8 billion.

"This has kept the price of the country's staple grain elevated despite the arrival of some imported rice and the improvement in the rice stocks of the National Food Authority," the statement read.

The economic team, on the other hand, considered the moderation of non-food inflation from 4.1 percent in August to 4 percent in September and the slowing down of inflation in the National Capital Region (6.3 percent) as positive developments.

"These clear signs of easing boost our confidence that inflation will taper off by year-end and go back to our target range by early next year," they said.

The Philippines' economic managers have also proposed to reduce the country's overall energy demand as global fuel prices continue to increase. 

These initiatives include the Department of Energy's e-Power Mo program, the Department of Transportation's public untility vehicles modernization program and other renewable energy initiatives.

"Moreover, many public utility drivers will benefit from DoE's continued and expanding partnership with various oil companies to provide fuel discounts," the statement read.

The DOF, NEDA and DBM also reiterated its call for the passage of Republic Act 8178 or the Agricultural Tarification Act, which would bring down the price of rice.

The proposed measure has been approved at the House of Representatives in its third and final reading. It is now up to the Senate for passage.

"This is among the medium to long-term reforms to address inflation, besides the immediate to short-term measures we have proposed," the economic team said.

They also called on the public to remain on guard against profiteers and report those who take advantage of the rising prices of goods.

"Despite risks and uncertainties in the global economy, the Philippines' macroeconomic fundamentals remain robust and resilient enough to weather external shocks," they said. — Patricia Lourdes Viray

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