By Mario Casayuran
The political opposition in the 24-member Senate chided on Wednesday the Duterte administration for failing to adopt concrete measures to directly address the consistently high inflation rate.
Sen. Francis N. Pangilinan, president of the Liberal Party (LP), said the 6.7 percent inflation in the country has been in place for two months now — higher than the estimate of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Department of Finance (DOF) that it would go down to 6.5 percent.
‘’It is also alarming that the inflation or the price of rice slightly increased to 10.7 percent this October compared to 10.4 percent last month,’’ he pointed out.
Pangilinan recalled that the government’s economic team released a joint statement on October 7 assuring Filipinos that its members are working on lowering the prices of goods and giving assistance to our people greatly affected by inflation.
He said that the political opposition suggested last month that the administration should address the inflation by:
First, suspending the excise tax on fuel. It was the BSP that said in a Senate hearing on October 25 that if the excise tax on fuel is suspended, it would help curb inflation.
Second, revisit the unconditional cash transfer (UCT) program and ensure that our impoverished countrymen would receive government’s aid sufficiently and soonest, especially since Christmas is right around the corner. In a hearing on October 23, the DSWD said that there are still more than one million families that are yet to be given a schedule to receive their payout because it is a “challenge” to reach isolated or depressed areas.
Third, fix the National Food Authority (NFA) leadership and ensure that they abide by their mandate in regulating the price of rice especially now that both Vietnam and Thailand have announced to back out in the bidding for 203,000 metric tons of rice because of some concerns in the terms of reference.
‘’When will we act? We reiterate these and we hope the government will listen because these are not just their problem but the problem of every Filipino,’’ Pangilinan asked.