Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo hails inflation rate downtrend

SPEAKER Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo welcomed the 3.8 percent “inflation rate” last February, which is the slowest rate of increase in prices of basic goods in a year.

“It is good that inflation is on a downtrend.  We must produce tangible results all around during the second half of the President’s term,” said Arroyo after the inflation rate in February 2019 matched the same 3.8 percent posted in February 2018.

While welcoming the good news, 1-Pacman party-list Rep. Mikee Romero said the government should continue to work double time to further arrest the inflation rate.

“Bagaman nag-slowdown ang inflation to 3.8%, ‘di dapat maging kampante ang gobyerno. Kasi aakyat muli ang inflation kapag hindi na-mitigate ang epekto ng El Niño. Hindi na-kontrol ang renta sa housing and business space. Hindi naipatupad agad ang mga probisyon ng Rice Tariff Law, lalo na ang Rice Fund at Agricultural Competitiveness Enhancement Fund. Hindi na-suspend ang fuel excise tax,” said Romero.

Romero sought medium to long-term solutions to further slowdown inflation like lengthening to 30 days the mandatory reserves for all fuel products in the tanks of the oil firms, establishing national fuel reserves, and issuing another batch of retail treasury bonds.

Opposition Akbayan party-list Rep. Tom Villarin said “the lowering of inflation rate to 3.8% is a welcome relief, but still a cautionary one as this is due mainly to favorable external factors like lower oil prices in the world market and the strengthening of the peso against a weak dollar.”

Villarin said it has also not lowered prices of basic commodities thus burdening workers suffering from low wages and lack of security of tenure.

“External factors are like pendulum swings that go to extremes. Right now it is to our advantage. For how long is not for us to decide,” said Villarin.

Likewise, Villarin said the early harvest season and arrival of rice imports also helped bring down prices, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

“The ramped up spending going to the elections will also increase money in circulation that tend to cause inflation. Likewise, the El Niño weather disturbance happening now will affect domestic agricultural production. Excise taxes on fuel will be a constant factor that is inflationary. These are internal factors that will spike inflation,” warned Villarin.

He said BSP interest rates have not gone down since last year when it increased three times, thus showing a conservative monetary policy that deters investment and job creation.

With low wages, workers still suffer from high prices of goods that have not gone down with inflation rates, Villarin stressed.