By Fil C. Sionil
A flurry of unprecedented news, both here and abroad, exploded on us in recent weeks.
Hogging the headlines offshore were the stories on the off-now-on historic meeting of US President Donald Trump with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un; the weeks-long protest in Jordan, which led to the resignation of Prime Minister Hani al-Mulki, due to taxes and the rising prices of commodities. Sounds familiar?
Rounding up the domestic news, though this happened in South Korea, the sense and sensibilities of the people were awakened with the “kissing scene” between President Duterte and Filipina Bea Kim, married to a Korean national with two children; the “cry babies” description by Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno of people complaining about the rollercoaster movements in the pump prices of petroleum products and basic commodities, blaming the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law; and the sustained rise in inflation with 4.6 percent in May, the highest in five years.
All these are game changers.
On both, the “kissing scene” and the “cry babies,” a groundswell of divergent reactions and comments ensued. Mr. Diokno earned the ire of netizens following his uncalled-for description for those complaining of high prices. While I back the rationale behind the TRAIN, to collect revenue for the build, build, build, but Mr. DBM you have to realize that like a baby hurting a person would definitely make a howler from any pain. Indeed, we’re crybabies but not without a cause, otherwise, we’re be paralleled to the “boy, who cried wolf.”
While there are genuine disagreements on the TRAIN law and its effect on inflation among the legislators, the economic managers, and the people, I love the way Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Nestor A. Espenila requested the members of his press corps to report the uphill climb in inflation, particularly in May, in its total perspective vis-à-vis the target. He reminded the reporters that BSP’s target is “not monthly but annual average and it should be viewed over a medium-term horizon to even out unexpected big shocks like oil prices.” And amidst the seriousness of the issue at hand, he commented– which is also one of the trending topics for basketball fanatics: “Otherwise, your coverage may be like GSW (Golden State Warriors) versus Cavs (Cavaliers). What a clincher!
It appears to me the governor is calm and serene despite the rising inflation. And true to form, he was non-committal when asked if he is a GSW or Cavs fan, Mr. Espenilla replied: “I like a balanced team.” Egged further, the BSP Governor agreed that GSW is a balanced team.
Beyond this unfolding drama on the villain that is the TRAIN law, some market analysts predict that another round of interest rates hikes this month may be in the offing to nip in the bud the ugly head of inflation. “Authorities should act anything beyond 4.5 percent inflation.”
Let’s watch how the market wheel spins next.
Epilogue: In answer to queries I’ve received from bankers and market players:
- On former National Treasurer Mina Figueroa. Good news: She prevailed and is now a newly minted local village politician.
- Yes, Star alliance, one of the world’s largest global airline alliances with 27 full members, is among the three that has invited flag carrier, Philippine Airlines to join the group.
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