PH gov’t to alleviate inflation with continued targeted subsidies, measures to boost food production — NEDA

The Philippine government is committed to providing timely assistance to those hardest hit by inflation and implementing measures that boost agricultural productivity to ensure the country’s food security, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said.

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported today that the country’s headline inflation rose to 8.0 percent in November 2022 from 7.7 percent in the previous month. Year-to-date inflation stood at 5.6 percent.

Services and non-food items such as electricity, food & beverage services, and transport services are the top sources of inflation in November 2022.

Most key commodity groups registered faster inflation, particularly for food and non-alcoholic beverages, which accelerated to 10 percent from 9.4 percent in the previous month.

Higher prices of vegetables, fruits, and rice was a result of lower production brought about by the onslaught of typhoons and higher cost of inputs. Similarly, sugar production is still reeling from the damage caused by recent typhoons.

Given the persisting high prices of food and transport costs, the Development Budget Coordination Committee has revised its inflation projection for 2022 to 5.8 percent from previous assumption of 4.5 to 5.5 percent.

“The government is continuously implementing targeted subsidies and discounts to allay the impact of the higher prices of essential goods, especially for the vulnerable sectors and low-income earners of our society,” NEDA Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan said.

The Department of Budget and Management has released PHP5.2 billion last week to cover the third tranche of the Targeted Cash Transfer (TCT) program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development. This covers a total of 9.8 million identified beneficiaries who are most affected by the continuous rise in commodity prices.

The TCT Program grants unconditional cash transfers of PHP500 per month to the most affected households for six months to mitigate the effects of the increase in the prices of fuel and other non-fuel commodities on vulnerable populations.

“To ease price pressures, we continue to implement measures to boost food production and reduce the cost of bringing farm produce to the market,” he added.

The Department of Agriculture has expanded the Kadiwa Program, which aims to connect producers to consumers, allowing a higher profit share for local farmers and more affordable prices for consumer.

Additionally, the government is supporting the agriculture sector by implementing programs to lower costs of inputs, provide financial assistance in the form of fuel discounts to farmers and fisherfolks, develop innovations, and strengthen agricultural value chain.

On the provision of social assistance, the NEDA chief highlighted the importance of government’s digital transformation for a more efficient and faster delivery of services to the people.

“We need to provide assistance, particularly to vulnerable groups, especially in times of high inflation. However, we need to improve our delivery mechanisms, particularly on the provision of ayuda to ensure that the aid reaches the right people in a timely manner,” Balisacan said.

“The digitalization effort of the government will help make this happen, which is part of the cross-cutting strategies identified in the Philippine Development Plan for 2023-2028,” he added.