FINANCE Secretary Carlos Dominguez III assured yesterday that the government is doing its best to tame inflation, citing “an array of measures” to streamline imports of agricultural goods and speed up the delivery of food items to the retail market.
In a statement, Dominguez cited Administrative Order (AO) 13 signed by President Duterte on Sept. 21 removing non-tariff barriers and administrative restrictions on the importation of agricultural products.
“We have addressed that (inflation). The President has instructed all the agencies that regulate importation of food items to loosen the non-tariff barriers and move ahead,” Dominguez said.
In AO 13, the President said that “non-tariff barriers and certain administrative constraints, procedures, and fees unduly add to the costs of importation and limit supply, which in turn push up the prices of agricultural commodities to the detriment of Filipino consumers, especially the poor.”
He also cited the President’s Memorandum Order (MO) 26 directing the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to implement measures to reduce the gap between the farmgate and retail prices of agricultural products.
MO 27 ordered the DA, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Metropolitan Development Authority (MMDA) to “adopt measures to ensure the efficient and seamless delivery” of imported agricultural and fishery products from ports to markets, while MO 28 directed the National Food Authority to immediately release existing stocks in its warehouses.
“People have been asking us to impose price controls but we don’t believe in that kind of approach. If you impose price controls, the items will just disappear from the market. So we’re addressing it by increasing supply,” Dominguez said.
He said the spike in crude oil prices, the adjustments of interest rates by the US Federal Reserve, global trade tensions, and supply issues caused by weather have all contributed to the inflation rate.
The directives form part of the measures unveiled by the Economic Development Cluster of the Cabinet to help rein in inflation.
Other measures include the DTI, NFA, PNP, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and farmers’ groups forming teams to watch over the transport of rice from ports to NFA warehouses and retail outlets; the DA replicating the issuance of certificates of necessity to allow fish imports to be distributed in markets; reducing gaps between the farmgate and retail prices of chicken by setting up public markets where producers can sell directly to consumers; the Sugar Regulatory Administration opening sugar imports to direct users; and the Bureau of Customs prioritizing the release of essential food items in the ports. (PR)