Measures make economic managers confident inflation to further ease

By Chino Leyco

President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s three economic managers are confident that inflation will further ease in the near term and settle within the central bank’s forecasts.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez (Bloomberg / MANILA BULLETIN) Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez

According to a joint statement released by the Department of Finance (DOF), Department of Budget and Management (DBM) as well as the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), the economic team said that the slower inflation in January gives them an auspicious start in their efforts to keep inflation manageable this year.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez, Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia all said that they expect the rate of consumer prices will go back to the government’s target range of 2.0 percent to 4.0 percent for 2019.

“While the inflation’s decelerating trend is something we have anticipated, we remain driven to be bolder and more focused on our overall anti-inflationary measures,” the joint statement read.

The officials also noted that the easing of inflation was widely felt across all regions.
“Therefore, we are confident that inflation will further ease in the near term and settle at 3.2 percent and 3.0 percent in 2019 and 2020, respectively, as seen by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas,” they said.
But the economic team also said they continue to push for the full implementation of non-monetary and administrative measures to stave off possible supply bottlenecks that have caused prices of key agricultural commodities to surge last year.

With the expected enactment into law of the rice tariffication bill soon, they believe the government is preparing for a quick and smooth transition to the new import tariff regime, along with the operationalization of the National Single Window to facilitate seamless trade transactions.

Other high-value crops such as fruits and vegetables, which experienced weather-related supply shocks last year, also need to be made more adaptive and resilient to changing weather conditions, they added.
“We urge the Department of Agriculture to facilitate a comprehensive crop management system to align farming activities with the prevailing supply-demand condition and weather pattern. In the fishery sector, sustainable management of coastal and other marine resources should be intensified, more so with the reported decline of available fish in open waters,” the official said.

“We also reiterate the timely release of the unconditional cash transfers and fuel vouchers for public utility jeepneys to cushion the impact of inflation on the society’s vulnerable sectors and mitigate possible second-round effects,” they added

“All these are part of the government’s commitment to boost economic growth in all dimensions and improve the quality of living for everyone,” the economic managers concluded.