Price freeze on goods ‘not tenable,’ ‘too simplistic, ineffective’ — solon
MANILA, Philippines — Implementing a price freeze amid the food inflation in the country is “too simplistic and ineffective,” Marikina City Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo reiterated Wednesday.
During the press briefing of the House minority bloc, Quimbo, an economist, said the price freeze will only further undermine the supply of goods, such as pork, in the market.
“A price cap on meat will work only if a price floor is implemented for farmgate prices, or else the burden ultimately falls on the hog raisers and farmers. But price caps at different levels of the value chain would be too difficult and too costly to enforce,” Quimbo said.
To address food inflation, Quimbo said a mix of policy responses is needed to address the food inflation.
According to the lawmaker, this includes the provision of cash assistance to farmers and hog raisers affected by the African Swine Fever and the typhoons that hit the country late last year.
“‘Yung pera na yan ang dagdag kapital para siguradong ipagpapatuloy nila ang kanilang pagsasaka, babuyan, o manukan. Ang mahalaga ay magpatuloy ang supply,” Quimbo said.
(That money is an additional to their capital to make sure they continue on with their farming, chicken and hog raising. The important is to continue the supply.)
“Tuwing kumokonti ang supply, tataas ang presyo. Less supply disruptions, less price spikes,” she added.
(Every time the supply goes down, prices go up.)
Quimbo added that lowering tariffs on imported meat which, she said, is one of the reasons for the prevalence of meat smuggling in the country, can also serve as a solution.
“Sa mas mababang taripa, mas maliit ang insentiba na mag smuggle: mas ok na lang ang magbayad ng taripa at maging legit na importer kung abot kaya naman ang tariff rate. More importantly, reducing tariffs will immediately lower prices in the marketplace and provide relief to consumers,” Quimbo said.
(With lower tariff, the incentive to smuggle is little: It is ok to pay the tariff and becomes a legitimate importer if you can afford the tariff rate.)
The lawmaker added that the government can use the revenues collected from tariffs to develop the country’s farming and livestock industries and provide subsidies to farmers and livestock producers to make them more competitive against imported goods.
“Dapat paigtingin ang kilos ng Philippine Competition Commission laban sa mga traders na bumabarat sa mga magsasaka at livestock producers,” Quimbo said.
(The Philippine Competition Commission should intensify the fight against stingy traders who are low-balling our farmers and livestock producers.)
“Pag-igtingin dapat ng Bureau of Customs ang enforcement laban sa smugglers,” she added.
(The Bureau of Customs should intensify the enforcement campaign against smugglers.)
President Rodrigo Duterte has imposed a 60-day freeze in the prices of pork and chicken to check their exorbitant prices in markets, earning the ire of local producers who believe the rates are “impossible” to meet.
Agriculture sector disregarded
Meanwhile, Ang Magsasaka Rep. Argel Cabatbat said that one of the causes of food inflation is the continued disregard towards the agriculture sector in the country.
“Ganun din sa mga tone-toneladang nasayang na ani simula noong isang taon dahil sa mga bagyo, kakulangan ng farm-to-market roads, at hindi malinaw na checkpoint policies noong nagsimula ang pandemya. Lahat ho ito ay indikasyon ng kakulangan sa batas, polisiya, at ayuda para sa maliliit na magsasaka,” Cabatbat said.
(It also goes with the tons of wasted harvest since last year because of typhoons, lack of farm-to-market roads, and unclear checkpoint policies when the pandemic started. All of these are indications of lacking in our laws, policies, and assistance to small farmers.)
Cabatbat said that the budget being given to the agriculture sector is not enough compared to the needs of farmers and fishermen in the country.
“Noong tinamaan tayo ng sunud-sunod na bagyo, hindi makahabol ang ayuda para sa pangangailangan ng mga magsasaka,” Cabatbat said.
(When we were hit by a series of typhoons, the assistance did not met the needs of our farmers.)
Cabatbat likewise, hit the government’s move to resort to importation in cases of “preventable” food storage in the country.
“Sinasabi ng mga ahensiya na last resort lang ito, pero ang totoong nangyayari eh first resort ang pag-aangkat ng pagkain mula sa ibang bansa. Nagsimula na ito sa Rice Tariffication Law, kaya sana huwag naman na itong krisis ang mitsa ng pagkakaroon ng ibang bersyon ng RTL para sa ibang mga pagkain,” the lawmaker added.
(The agencies are saying that this is just the last resort, but what is happening is that the importation of food from abroad has become the first resort. It has started with the Rice Tariffication Law, we are hoping that the crisis will not a reason for the RTL to have a new version for other food supply.)
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