The way I saw the events and numbers that came out this week were alarming yet are manageable by the new administration as their impacts on consumers were mainly driven by food prices and transport costs.
Inflation rates were not unexpected and were still within Bangko Sentral forecasts. This gives consumers confidence that the price situation is being monitored closely.
Considering no food price increases were authorized in June, we should feel tempering of prices this month.
The President ordered agriculture officials to sustain supply in the marketplace of rice, corn, and flour. Here we see the administration addressing the fundamentals—sustaining supply will help bring down food prices.
Meanwhile, this administration was off to a good start when they extended the free carousel bus ride and students fare in the MRT. This will become more important for consumers as more businesses expand operations and schools resume face-to-face classes.
The fare hike of minimum P11.00 or higher will circulate money from business to consumer and fellow consumers as well. It will also help keep the PUBs/PUJs on the road and serving commuters.
The Bill filed by Senator Koko Pimentel on suspension of the excise taxes and value-added tax on fuels on certain conditions should be further improved so that tax law would be equitable and progressive. This will need time, though, to go through the legislative process.
For now, fuel prices were reduced for diesel and kerosene and can be a trend.
The rollback of fuel prices this week brings respite for all businesses including carinderias as they may opt to withdraw their own price increases implemented earlier. Thus, the media statement of Mr. George Barcelon of PCCI that their members will defer price increases is very positive.
Consumers know these days when to stop buying expensive food items and save for the better days.
The high world market prices for food and fuel are worsened by the peso’s depreciation. Tourism destinations, exporters, and BPOs should take advantage of the weaker peso, which I hope will also translate to more earnings for their employees.
Even consumers with dollar-based income or receive remittances from abroad should learn how to benefit for the extra income that they earn and it is best to keep them for awhile.
The cleansing of the social welfare beneficiaries is long time overdue as those who are no longer eligible will be taken out of the list in favor of others. Besides, the list that DSWD will report out will also be used by other agencies tasked to give benefit like water and electricity. Thus, there will be only a single list of poor Filipinos.
With a clean listing, distribution of financial assistance to qualified beneficiaries becomes more efficient and can then be augmented in 2023.
The priority assistance to MSMEs should also be pursued as most MSMEs laborers are consumers. MSMEs as a whole are also the biggest employers in the country. I hope there will be no logjam in interconnectivity to markets especially virtual and online platforms. There should be more such platforms available to legitimate MSMEs. Enough of mentoring MSMEs as this was supposed to be done by the past administration. Those who are ready now should go and proceed.
Recently, the Supreme Court upheld ERC’s approval in 2013 of Meralco’s staggered collection of generation costs. Sadly, this means additional generation costs recoverable from consumers. In these times, Meralco and ERC should defer this to a later period.
The Department of Energy reported a successful maiden Green Energy Auction. I hope this can bring in added generation supply to the country, but without leading to a higher Feed In Tariff-Allowance (FIT-All) burden for electricity consumers nationwide.
Meantime, I received on July 4, 2022 an ERC Resolution dated June 22, 2022 that directed Meralco to refund its customers another P21 billion covering July 2015 to June 2022, for a refund rate of P0.8656/kWh for households.
This is a welcome development and will help government efforts to tame inflation.
Atty. Vic Dimagiba, AB, LLB,LlM
President Laban Konsyumer Inc.
DTI recognized National Consumer Organization