Duterte told: TRAIN, not Trump, to blame for high inflation
It’s TRAIN, not Trump.
A lawmaker said President Duterte should blame the new tax reform law, Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act, and not US President Donald Trump, for the country’s high inflation.
“Though, of course, the United States’ stranglehold on Philippine economy can be blamed largely for its underdevelopment, the high inflation now can be blamed mostly on the TRAIN law and not on Trump’s skewed trade policy,” Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said in a text message on Saturday.
“Our economy may also be hurt by the ongoing trade wars by these big countries, yet the country’s current inflationary wounds are mostly self-inflicted by the antipoor economic policies of the administration,” Zarate added.
The President blamed Trump’s economic policies when he was questioned by reporters in Amman about the 6.4-percent inflation in August, a nine-year high that exceeded most analysts’ forecasts.
“Who started it? America. When America raised its rates, everyone raised theirs as well. That is how it is. There is nothing we can do,” he told reporters. “Because America … Trump wanted it. Even taxes like excise tax, they raised it. Even import [duties].”
An Agence France-Presse (AFP) report said President Duterte later clarified that he was not angry at the American leader, saying: “I will talk to friend Trump.”
Trade chief mum
“I have nothing against the American people, not the slightest … misgiving against Trump,” he added.
In a separate statement, Zarate said the 8-percent drop in the President’s net trust rating based on the Social Weather Stations survey would continue due to the rising prices of goods and services.
The lawmaker said the President’s ratings would continue to plunge as the TRAIN law, peso depreciation and antifarmer policies push upward the prices of oil, rice, fish, water, power and other products.
Sought for comment, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the President might have been referring to the US decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran, a move expected to increase oil prices.
“I think he refers more to America’s moves that triggered world oil price, like the sanction against Iran,” Lopez said in a text message to the Inquirer on Saturday.
When asked if he agreed with Mr. Duterte’s statement, Lopez said: “No comment.”
The President said he would leave it up to his economic managers to find ways to ease the impact of inflation.
“I am not apologizing. There is really inflation and we are trying to control it,” the President said.
Consumer advocacy groups said the government’s economic managers must come up with “radical solutions to address problems of rising prices, shrinking peso value, which are driven by the worsening inflation.”
“All that (government leaders) are proposing are old systems which, as we have seen, have not worked. President Duterte must now come up with radical solutions to solve these problems on our worsening economy,” Rodolfo Javellana Jr., president of the United Filipino Consumers and Commuters, said during a forum in the University of the Philippines on Saturday.
Renato Magtubo, president of labor group Partido Manggagawa and a former lawmaker, said the President must now fire “nonperforming and underperforming” members of his Cabinet.
Among the steps the government can do, according to Magtubo, is to deploy rolling stores which sell basic commodities at discounted prices, and send these to factory belts and poor communities. —With reports from Melvin Gascon, Roy Stephen Canivel and AFP
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