By Ben Rosario
Former president and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is pleased with the declining trend of inflation rate but called on government to “act quickly” in implementing infrastructure programs and other plans that would make Filipinos feel the results of such improvement.
“It is good that inflation is on a downtrend,” said Arroyo in a statement issued on Saturday.
“In general, to the extent that so-called domestic supply side factors are involved, the government’s agencies must act quickly on the implementation side, to get the plans and programs going on the ground and produce results our people will feel in their day to day lives,” she stated.
One of the country’s brilliant economists, Arroyo said implementation of programs and projects by government should be done “quickly and efficiently, in all fronts.”
“This is consistent with some Cabinet members’ call for vigorous implementation of the government’s infrastructure program,” the House leader stressed.
She added: “We must produce tangible results all around during the second half of the President’s term.”
However, Gabriela Women Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas is convinced that the slowdown in inflation rate that was recorded in December “is temporary,” pointing out that prices of fuel and other basic commodities, are set for another increase when government implements the second round of excise tax hike on petroleum products starting this month.
Another oppositionist, Akbayan Party-list Rep. Tom Villarin has also aired serious doubts that the 5.1 inflation rate recorded in December 2018 should be a cause for celebration.
Villarin said prices of goods remain “high compared to the previous year’s prices and annual inflation of only 2.7 percent in 2017.”
“Low wages also constrict the purchasing power of the vast majority who bear the brunt of the TRAIN law that triggered inflation,” noted Villarin.
He joined Brosas in airing fears that the downward inflation rate will be short-lived because of the “inflationary environment” that is expected to be triggered by the implementation of the second round of hikes in fuel tax as provided under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law.
Brosas chided Duterte and the government economic managers for “quickly taking credit for supposedly lowering the inflation rate to 5.1 percent in December”.
“Women and their families are bound to be affected with a price hike time bomb due to the impending excise tax hike on oil products, as well as the looming enactment of rice tariffication law that will open the floodgates for more imported rice and swamp local markets. It is only a matter of time before a higher inflation rate hike kicks in,” the Gabriela representative said.