Bicol’s 9% inflation no cause for alarm – Neda
LEGAZPI CITY — The Bicol office of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) sought to calm fears over rising inflation, which had already hit 9 percent in the region.
The Neda regional office said measures were already in place to cushion the impact of rising prices of basic commodities.
Agnes Espinas-Tolentino, Neda regional director, said there was not enough basis for consumers to be alarmed because prices of agricultural products were still lower in Bicol than in other regions.
She said prices of rice, meat and other food products in Bicol were still much lower than prices in Metro Manila and in regions in Mindanao.
“We are not moving toward a crisis situation as food prices and supply are sustainable,” she said.
“We start to be worried and be alarmed when there is no more supply in the market,” Tolentino said in an interview.
In a media briefing, Neda, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) and the Department of Agriculture (DA), presented measures that they said were being taken to stabilize prices and supply.
These included creation of a task group to regulate and monitor prices and supply of products like rice, fish, meat and vegetables.
Another measure was to lift restrictions on the entry of agricultural products but impose tariff and open trading centers in Bicol.
Another was to fully mechanize farming to boost production.
The task group would be composed of officials from the DA, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Justice, Department of Finance, the Philippine National Police and local government units.
Its duty would be to monitor prices and supply of agricultural products and file charges against hoarders, cartels, smugglers and economic saboteurs.
Tolentino said price control was not a viable option, since it was being resorted to only during times of calamities when a state of calamity was declared.
“In this situation it is not applicable,” she added.
No supply shortage
Elena De Los Santos, DA regional director, said there was no shortage of supply of agricultural products in Bicol.
She said fish production had increased by 75,000 metric tons in the second half of the year.
De Los Santos said that since last year, the DA had recorded a 120 percent fish sufficiency.
She, however, said while the region had attained sufficiency in fish, prices were still high as excess supply was being sold to other regions.
Fish being used for canned sardines were being sold to manufacturers with plants outside Bicol, De Los Santos said.
She said while prices of vegetables in Bicol had increased by nearly 27 percent, it was due to transport and fuel costs.
Vegetables being consumed in the region all come from Benguet, she said.
Since 2011, De Los Santos said, Bicol had already attained rice self-sufficiency.
The National Food Authority (NFA) in Bicol said 2.9 million bags of imported rice had already arrived and would be good for 75 days.
The NFA has close to 2,000 accredited rice outlets in Bicol which sell rice for an average of P27 per kilogram.
5 kg a day
Consumers were being limited to 5 kg of rice a day, however.
Cynthia Perdiz, PSA regional director, said the 9 percent inflation rate in Bicol could be blamed partly on the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act, supply and demand, peso-dollar fluctuations and decline in consumers’ purchasing power.
Perdiz, however, said there was no cause for alarm because the inflation trend was normal if viewed on a month-on-month basis.
She said since June 2017 to January 2018, month-on-month inflation was negative in the region.
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