PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte is readying an executive order (EO) aimed at addressing soaring inflation
The possibility of issuing an EO was discussed during Duterte’s private meeting with the economic managers right before the 29th Cabinet meeting last Tuesday.
The EO will help implement the measures proposed by the Cabinet’s economic cluster to help lower prices of essential food items like rice, poultry, and sugar.
“We proposed nine measures to contain inflation and a corresponding EO to get them implemented straight away – to which he (President Duterte) agreed,” according to socio economic planning chief Ernesto Pernia.
He confirmed these measures were the ones laid out in the Cabinet’s economic cluster joint statement on the August 2018 inflation.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III confirmed that Duterte “expressed support” for the economic team’s proposals. One of these proposals that require a presidential issuance is the streamlining of licensing procedures for rice imports of the National Food Authority (NFA).
A simplified process would mean faster arrival and distribution of imported rice in order to stabilize market prices of this staple.
An EO that would include this measure would be implemented by the NFA as it is tasked with the distribution of rice to ensure adequate supply.
Another proposal of the economic team is for the Philippine National Police, National Bureau of Investigation, and farmers’ groups to be part of a monitoring team ensuring rice stocks from ports reach NFA warehouses and retail outlets.
This measure will ensure the imported rice does not get into the hands of greedy rice traders who would hoard the rice in order to artificially raise rice prices.
As a further measure, 4.6 million sacks of rice in NFA warehouses will be “immediately released” to markets all over the country. The economic managers expect some two million sacks to be delivered by the end of September.
The NFA Council has also approved the importation of 5 million sacks arriving in November. Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi will be sent 2.7 million sacks of rice to address the reported shortage there.
To lower the prices of fish in markets, the Department of Agriculture (DA) will replicate the issuance of certificates of necessity so that imported fish can be distributed to wet markets all over the country.
As for poultry, the DA and the Department of Trade and Industry will arrange for poultry producers to set up shop in public markets so that consumers can directly buy from them.
This would mean cheaper poultry items since the process bypasses middlemen or other steps that add to retail prices. The DA will provide cold storage.
To stem rising prices of sugar, the economic team proposed that the Sugar Regulatory Administration open importation of sugar to direct users.
Duterte appeared to give priority to the issue of inflation as he devoted a private meeting to it whereas the Cabinet meeting itself lasted only two hours.