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3月18日のまにら新聞から

Gov't to continue targetted relief to vulnerable sectors amid inflationary pressure-NEDA

[ 596 words|2022.3.18|英字 (English) ]

Targeted relief for the transport and agriculture sectors and unconditional cash transfers (UCT) for the bottom 50 percent of households will help cushion the impact of inflationary pressures arising from the Russia-Ukraine crisis, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said.

These form part of the three recommendations Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua presented to President Rodrigo Duterte during the Talk to the People aired yesterday.

“First, we will focus on relief in a targeted manner to the vulnerable sectors, such as service contracting with public utility vehicles and a subsidy of P6,500 per month for two months funded by the excess VAT collections, as recommended by Secretary Dominguez,'' said Chua.

As estimated by the Department of Finance, higher crude prices of $110 per barrel can provide incremental VAT revenues of P26 billion from March to December 2022. This increases to P37.5 billion at $130 per barrel.

NEDA also supported the Department of Finance’s proposal to provide a UCT of P2,400 for the bottom 50 percent of households, which would cost some P33.1 billion for 2022.

“The second recommendation is to implement the unconditional cash transfer program which we did under the TRAIN law. So, we already have the experience and the list of beneficiaries. We will help them again so they will not face hardships,'' said Chua.

Chua's third recommendation is to conserve energy by reducing the workweek to four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days, noting that this was done in the 1990s during the Gulf War and in 2008 when oil prices also increased.

According to the NEDA chief, these three recommendations will be more effective alternatives to the increase in wages and fares, which is expected to add 1.4 percentage points to inflation and may end up affecting all Filipinos. This will allow the public to save on expenses such as fuel and transport costs.

“Mr. President, higher inflation rate is a tax on all and leads to higher interest rates. If price increase accelerates, everyone will be affected: rich, poor, teachers, those living in cities, those residing in provinces. If prices are elevated, the next to increase would be interest rates, and everyone who borrows money, such as the government, businesses, those with housing loans, those with loans from cooperatives, will be affected,'' he said.

While Chua acknowledged the good intentions from the calls to increase wages and fares to help minimum wage workers and public transport operators and drivers, he pointed out the need to be careful to avoid their spiraling effect.

Chua emphasized the need to take into consideration all sectors and not just one type of worker or sector when implementing policies and interventions.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ latest inflation forecast for 2022 is at 3.7 percent. NEDA estimates that increasing the minimum jeepney fare by P1.25 could increase inflation by 0.4 percentage point.

Moreover, a 6 percent or P39 per day increase to the minimum wage in the National Capital Region could add a 1 percentage point to the inflation. If implemented, these could bring the estimated inflation to 5.1 percent, above the 2 to 4 percent target for the year.

“Now, with the crisis that’s happening, the prices of basic goods are increasing and if we do not monitor closely, there will be spiral effect. This means apart from increasing fuel prices, we may also face rising food prices, along electricity, water, and others,'' said Chua.

Chua reiterated that NEDA will continue to monitor the situation on inflation and, as necessary, recommend policies and interventions that will benefit all Filipinos. NEDA Public Affairs