Crybaby me
NOTES FROM THE EDITOR - Singkit (The Philippine Star) - June 10, 2018 - 12:00am

At the market last Sunday, my suki wouldn’t tell me the price of garlic. “Mahal po (It’s expensive)” was all she would say.

Magkano nga (How much is a) kilo?” I pressed. 

Reluctantly, she answered, “P400,” then added, apparently embarrassed, “Kasi Ilocos ’yan eh. Mahal ang kuha namin kasi mahal ng trucking, ang taas ng krudo (It’s from Ilocos. It’s expensive because trucking is expensive, fuel cost is so high).”

It was practically the same chorus throughout the market, from the fish and seafood vendor to the fruits and vegetables seller; the only exception I encountered was the one selling native chicken, who maintained prices at P200 and P250 each, depending on size.

Early last week, with news that inflation hit a five-year high, government economists and finance officials all sang a reassuring tune that inflation was “leveling off and probably dropping,” with the fuel futures market in “backwardation,” meaning prices were on a downtrend, so prices of food and other goods should likewise soon be on a downtrend. When I go to the market today I will find out if the price of garlic is likewise on backwardation.

The trio of secretaries of budget, finance and economic development (plus an undersecretary of the latter) put out this ridiculous “sample household budget” of P10,000 that a family of five is supposed to be able to live on for a month, with P3,834 for food, P1,288 for rent and P2,674 for “transportation, health and education.” Those wiseguys who put out that “sample household budget” should be subjected to tokhang to find out what they are smoking, snorting or ingesting.

These three arrogant officials have been challenged to actually try and live on their “sample household budget” – #NEDA10KChallenge – but there has so far been no indication that they are willing to take up the challenge. That undersecretary of NEDA quickly clarified in a radio interview that P10,000 is just a “hypothetical” figure and they are still conducting a study on how much is needed for a family to live a decent life. Yeah, right.

The budget chief, who had earlier labeled people like me bellyaching about rising prices as crybabies, admitted, however, that he expects “there will still be an uptick in inflation” within the year, but again, he is “confident that it will taper off.” In the meantime, we should just bite the bullet, endure the pain of increased prices with grace and fortitude in order for us to become an “upper middle income country” that he wants us to be by next year. Exactly what that means he didn’t say; crybabies like me don’t know about stuff like that. 

If I may add to Shakespeare’s famous line (from Act IV of Henry VI, Part 2), after the lawyers, I think we should get rid of the economists.

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