AGRICULTURE will remain among the top concerns of the Duterte administration for the rest of its term, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said.
In a statement, the finance chief said this is in line with their goal to raise farm productivity and rural incomes, and avoid a repeat of the supply problems in rice and other major food items that led to the elevated inflation rate in the second half of 2018.
The Department of Finance quoted Dominguez as saying that improving agricultural output and raising farmers’ incomes through education, and the use of new farm technologies emerged as the top actionable recommendation of the private sector in the four “Sulong Pilipinas” events held last November, which shows that even the business community recognizes the importance of the farm sector in sustaining the economy’s high growth rate.
“We will focus on agriculture in the coming years. We know that the major reason for the inflation this year has been the logistics problems we have had in agriculture, as well as production problems,” Dominguez said in response to a question of Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry chairman George Barcelon.
The PCCI helped organize the four Sulong Pilipinas regional workshops last November. Sulong Pilipinas is the annual consultative meeting with the private sector to gather the inputs and recommendations of the business sector and civil society on how to fulfill the government’s goal of high and inclusive growth.
The government responded with a series of measures recommended by the economic team aimed at streamlining procedures for agricultural imports.
Among these was Administrative Order 13 signed by President Duterte last Sept. 21 to remove administrative restrictions on the importation of agricultural products.
The President also issued Memorandum Order (MO) 26 directing the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to reduce the gap between the farmgate and retail prices of agricultural products.
MO 27, meanwhile, ordered the DA, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Philippine National Police (PNP), and the Metropolitan Manila 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 (NFA) to immediately release existing rice stocks in its warehouses. (PR)