President Marcos vows to continue mitigating inflation impact

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
President Marcos vows to continue mitigating inflation impact
Red and white onions are being sold from 50 to 60 pesos per kilo at a public market in Lingayen, Pangasinan on February 3, 2024.
Cesar Ramirez / The Philippine STAR

MANILA, Philippines — President Marcos has vowed to continue mitigating the impact of higher commodity prices on Filipino households as he welcomed the inflation downtrend recorded last month.

Headline inflation slowed to 2.8 percent last month, the lowest since the 2.3 percent posted in October 2020, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Tuesday.

Inflation – the rate of increase in the prices of goods and services – hit 3.9 percent last December while it was 8.7 percent in January last year.

The downtrend in the overall inflation last month was primarily caused by the slower annual increment of food and non-alcoholic beverages at 3.5 percent from 5.4 percent in the previous month, according to the PSA.

Marcos said he was pleased by the “significant” inflation slowdown and assured the public that government measures designed to maintain economic growth and to address existing challenges would continue.

“We remain committed to easing the burden on our citizens, as evidenced by the recent electricity bill discounts for low-income households,” he declared in a statement.

The President was referring to the lifeline rate program, which provides a subsidized rate to qualified low-income electricity customers who cannot settle their electricity bills in full.

Marcos cited the decline in food inflation, which eased to 3.3 percent last month from 5.5 percent in December and 11.2 percent in January 2023, and government measures like the implementation of the National Adaptation Plan and the reactivation of Task Force El Niño.

“Additionally, strategic partnerships with countries like Vietnam for rice supply to allow further imports of key food commodities are crucial steps toward ensuring sustained progress,” he said.

The rice supply agreement between the Philippines and Vietnam aims to ensure adequate food supply in the two countries as they brace for the effects of climate change and other external events.

Under the deal, Vietnam’s private sector will supply the Philippine private sector with white rice amounting to 1.5 million to 2 million metric tons per year at an affordable price for five years.

Marcos also called on Filipinos to cooperate with the government in addressing the economic challenges confronting the country.

Meanwhile, a consumers’ group yesterday said ordinary Filipinos continue to suffer despite the reported drop in inflation last month amid the spike in retail prices of rice.

In a radio interview, Suki Network spokesman Reginald Vallejos said the PSA report that inflation decreased to 2.8 percent last month was useless as consumers are still reeling from the high cost of rice. — Bella Cariaso

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