DOF Movement Against Inflation Gives Marcos Approval

PRESIDENT Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. supported the proposed measures by the Department of the Treasury (DOF) to combat high inflation.

Last Tuesday, the chief executive met with economic managers in Malacañang to discuss how to mitigate the current effects of rising costs of living, especially through non-monetary policy measures.

On a short message service, Presidential Communications Office (PCO) secretary Cheloy Velikaria-Garafil said the president approved “generally” the list of interventions presented by the economic managers at the meeting.

Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said that among their proposed measures are speeding up the release of imported food items from the Bureau of Customs (BOC); creation of a new Interdepartmental Committee on Inflation and Market Conditions; and expanding the government’s Kadiwa program, which allows agricultural suppliers to directly sell their products to consumers.

They also recommended 26.6 billion pesos in subsidies for vulnerable groups. Of these, 9.3 billion pesos will be used to provide a targeted cash transfer program to 9.3 million households who will receive 1,000 pesos a month for two months.

Also part of the proposal was to change the working hours of government employees to shifts from 7:00 to 16:00 and keep the temperature in government offices at 25 Celsius to reduce the demand for electricity across the country.

The implementation of the measures, Diokno said, should bring inflation down to 4 percent by October.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported last Tuesday that inflation had slowed only slightly to 8.6% in the previous month from 8.7% in January.

It notes that the main drivers of inflation are still electricity, gas and other fuels, as well as price hikes for food and essential goods.

Palliative measures

FOR working groups, recent inflation data has shown the urgent need for government intervention to reduce the high cost of living.

“The decrease in inflation from 8.7% to 8.6% did not affect the prices of essential goods,” Secretary General Kilusang Mayo Uno Jerome Adonis said in a text message.

Adonis, however, welcomed the government’s proposal to provide more government subsidies to vulnerable populations in the face of high inflation. However, he noted that such measures are not sustainable.

The union leader called on the government to impose price controls on essential goods and help farmers increase production so the country would stop relying on imported goods.

For its part, Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (Sentro) called the announced initiatives to reduce inflation “insufficient palliative measures” for workers.

“Workers urgently need to regain lost purchasing power. And the best way to do that is to increase wages and lower the cost of living for workers,” said Sentro General Secretary Josua T. Mata.

Mata said the government could also lower the cost of living by lowering food prices and the cost of electricity.

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