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Inflation impact on Bicol worse than that of ‘Ompong’ – solon

Economist and legislator Salceda says it’s a ‘horrible time’ for region’s poor
By: - Correspondent / @msarguellesINQ
/ 05:18 AM October 08, 2018

CALM BEFORE STORMChildren venture into the beach in Legazpi City, a day before Typhoon “Ompong” struck Albay province in September. —MARK ALVIC ESPLANA

LEGAZPI CITY — The impact of double digit inflation in the Bicol region, at 10.1 percent, was worse than that of Typhoon “Ompong” (international name: Mangkhut), according to Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, a noted economist.

The situation, according to Salceda was “tempus horribilis (horrible time)” worse than what Ompong wrought on Bicol, the country’s fourth poorest region.

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High prices would hurt most the region’s poor, which make up 30 percent of the population, Salceda said.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), in a report in September, said average inflation that month (6.7 percent) continued to move at a pace quicker than that of August (6.4 percent).

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Higher outside Metro Manila

Inflation was higher outside the National Capital Region at 6.8 percent in September, the PSA said.

All regions, according to the PSA, registered higher inflation in September.

The region with the highest inflation rate was Bicol at 10.1 percent and Central Luzon had the lowest inflation rate at 4.5 percent.

Rhondon Ricafort, a government employee, said the current salary of an ordinary worker could not cope with rising prices of goods.

The region’s double digit inflation, Ricafort said, was “a bad sign detrimental to the purchasing power of a regular employee.”

Ed Yu, also a government employee, said the increase in salary of government workers “is being eaten by the high prices of basic commodities including other necessities.”

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“The Duterte administration must address these skyrocketing prices,” Yu said.

“Otherwise, whatever gain it has achieved for the past two years will go to naught,” he said.

Criminal mismanagement

According to Salceda, part of the blame for high inflation rests on the National Food Authority (NFA).

The NFA is being blamed for a shortage of government-subsidized rice, which is also seen as a major cause of spikes in rice prices.

“This reflects NFA’s criminal mismanagement given that Bicol was not hurt by any adverse weather event within 2018 and the region is, by Department of Agriculture’s own accounting, rice-sufficient,” he said.

Power rate hike

Salceda, economic adviser of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, said rising prices of meat, fish and vegetables could be attributed to rising cost of inputs, tariff, excessive trade margins and the impact of Ompong on the Cordillera Administrative Region, which accounted for 70 percent of vegetable supply in Luzon.

GOING BANANASA store selling bananas in Legazpi City awaits customers as some businesses start to feel the pinch of double digit inflation in the Bicol region. —MARC ALVIC ESPLANA

Power rates, he said, registered an 8.1-percent increase due to a 60-percent increase in global oil prices and peso depreciation from P49 to P54.3 to a dollar.

Salceda expressed lament that the Duterte economic strategy targeted a decrease in poverty level by 1 percent per year, but it appeared to be unreachable.

“Instead, the unhappy confluence of adverse external head wind, perverse impact of climate change and self-inflicted mismanagement will result in an increase of 3.36 percent” in poverty level, Salceda said.

Maria Indra Menghamal Dado, a businesswoman, said that although rising prices was a challenge to workers, demanding a wage increase would make it worse.

“Too much competition, high taxes, labor demands,” she said.

Inquirer calls for support for the victims of typhoon Ompong

Responding to appeals for help, the Philippine Daily Inquirer is extending its relief to victims of the recent typhoon Ompong.

Cash donations may be deposited in the Inquirer Foundation Corp. Banco De Oro (BDO) Current Account No: 007960018860 and Swift Code: BNORPHMM.

Inquiries may be addressed to Inquirer’s Corporate Affairs office through Connie Kalagayan at 897-4426, ckalagayan@inquirer.com.ph and Bianca Kasilag-Macahilig at 897-8808 local 352, bkasilag@inquirer.com.ph.

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TAGS: Inflation, Joey Salceda, Philippine Statistics Authority, PSA, rising prices, Typhoon Mangkhut, Typhoon Ompong
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