Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Economic team drafts EO to tame inflation

MANILA. Prices of vegetables should be stable in the next three months as manufacturers have agreed to freeze prices of basic goods and prime commodities in an effort to curb inflation. (Alfonso Padilla/SunStar Philippines)

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte's economic managers have drafted an executive order (EO) aimed at taming the soaring prices of commodities, Malacañang said on Wednesday, September 12.

During a Cabinet meeting on Monday, September 10, economic managers submitted to Duterte some proposals that would address inflation, which hit 6.4 percent in August 2018.

This was less than one percentage point shy of the nine-year high of 6.6 percent in March 2009, during the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration.

Among the economic team's proposals is the signing of an EO eliminating "administrative constraints and non-tariff barriers" on some goods, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said.

Non-tariff barriers are restrictions to imports or exports through means other than the imposition of tariffs. These take the form of import quotas, import permits, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and product standards, among others.

"The economic cluster group will submit to the Office of the President a draft executive order removing administrative constraints and non-tariff barriers on importation of fish, rice, sugar, meat, and vegetables," Roque told Palace reporters.

"'Yung [proposed] EO has [something] to do with non-tariff barriers at saka 'yung non-tariff impediments. Pero 'yung mga ibang hakbang po, ginagawa na natin," he added.

(The proposed EO has something to do with non-tariff barriers. But other measures have already been taken up.)

On September 7, Duterte blamed the tariffs slapped by the United States on some goods for the accelerating inflation in the Philippines.

In a separate press briefing, Trade Undesecretary Ruth Castelo said the surge in prices was driven by the "trading scheme" between production and retail.

"Kapag nalaman kasi natin 'yung trading sources, most of the time, it's not the market vendors [who] are at fault, kasi 'yung kuha nila doon sa trader nila or 'yung supplier nila [ay] already above the reasonable price," she said.

(When we look at the trading sources, most of the time, it's not the market vendors [who] are at fault, because the products they get from their trader or the supplier are already above the reasonable price," she said.

"Hindi naman natin pwedeng pigilan ang market vendors na maglagay ng kita nila. So doon 'yung nakita nating problema (We cannot prevent the market vendors from earning profit. That's where the problem stemmed from). And that's what we're doing our best to source or to look out for," the Trade official added.

Castelo said manufacturers of basic necessities and prime commodities agreed to hold off price hikes in the next three months.

The three-month price freeze covers canned sardines, canned meat, instant noodles, all kinds of milk, coffee, bottled waters, candles, detergents, bath soaps, and all other basic necessities, she said.

Roque said other solutions proposed by the country's economic managers to tame inflation was to simplify and streamline the procedures for the importation and release to market of basic food items. (SunStar Philippines)