As inflation eased in October 2023, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) assured the public that the government would continue assisting the most vulnerable sectors as El Niño is expected to linger until mid-2024.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported today that inflation in October 2023 significantly slowed to 4.9 percent from 6.1 percent the previous month. This brings the year-to-date inflation to 6.4 percent.
“As inflation eases, it is crucial to continue monitoring the prices of commodities, particularly food, transportation, and energy, amid global challenges such as geopolitical uncertainties and El Niño,” said NEDA Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan.
The slowdown was mainly due to a lower food inflation rate of 7.1 percent in October from 10.0 percent in September. Inflation of the following commodities decelerated: rice (13.2% from 17.9%), vegetables (11.9% from 29.6%), fish (5.6% from 6.1%), bread & other cereals (7.4% from 8.1%), sugar (4.9% from 9.0%), and meat (0.8% from 1.3%).
“Rice inflation slowed down following the onset of peak harvest and import arrivals. The stable supply of vegetables as harvest season comes likewise resulted in a slower inflation rate of the commodity,” the NEDA chief said.
Meanwhile, the country is experiencing a moderate El Niño, which is expected to strengthen until the second quarter of 2024, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). This is expected to bring in below-normal rainfall across the country and may adversely impact agriculture production and energy generation.
“Moreover, it is important to ensure that the most vulnerable sectors of the society are protected and provided assistance, especially while food prices remain high and we expect El Niño to affect local and global food production,” he said.
In line with this, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is currently implementing the pilot run of the Food Stamp Program (FSP), which the agency will scale up in mid-2024. The Economic Development Group (EDG) also recommended extending the reduced tariff rates for Most Favored Nation under EO No. 10 (s. 2022) until the end of 2024, subject to midyear review.
“While we are providing short-term measures to address effects of inflation through subsidies and importation, we also need to address long-standing challenges in agriculture and food supply chain and help our local farmers boost their productivity and resilience through investment in irrigation, flood control, supply chain logistics, and climate change adaptation,” Balisacan added.