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Inflation still high at 8.6%; President okays inter-agency committee to combat inflation

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has approved the creation of a high-level inter-agency advisory body to mitigate inflation and ensure food and energy security,  National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Arsenio Balisacan reported.

Balisacan said the advisory body will be called Interagency Committee on Inflation and Market Outlook.

“This newly formed committee shall serve as an advisory body to the President and the Cabinet on measure to mitigate inflation and ensure food and energy security while balancing the interests of local food producers, consumers, and the overall economy,” he said in a statement.

The interagency committee will be co-chaired by NEDA and the Department of Finance (DOF), with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) as vice chair.
Meanwhile, the cash aid program and several fiscal measures are set for implementation to help address inflation rate in the country, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno said.

In a briefing in Malacanang, Diokno, who attended a sectoral meeting with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. earlier in the day, said one of the measures proposed to alleviate the impact of inflation is the distribution of P500 monthly cash aid for two months, amounting to about P26.6 billion, to about 9.3 million households across the country.

He said an improvement in tax collections would allow the government to have the needed funds for this program, which will be implemented in the coming days.

Among the beneficiaries of the cash aid are farmers, fisherfolk, and those in the transport sector, he added.

Another measure to cushion the impact of inflation presented before the President is addressing the agriculture sector’s supply chain needs, such as post-harvest facilities, warehousing, distribution, and transportation.

The advisory body to the Chief Executive will also be composed of the Department of Agriculture (D

He said these short- and long-term measures aim to dampen inflation rate, which registered a slower year-on-year rate of 8.6 percent in February compared to January’s 14-year high of 8.7 percent.

Diokno said authorities forecast inflation to return to within the government’s 2 percent to 4 percent target band by October this year, noting that February’s inflation rate is near the lower end of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ 8.5 percent to 9.3 percent forecast for the month.

A), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

It will also have the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) as its resource institutions.

“The advisory body will lead the close monitoring of inflation (particularly on food and energy and their main drivers and causes), facilitate regular and efficient data-sharing among concerned agencies, assess the supply-demand situation for energy and essential food commodities, provide forward estimates given various scenarios, and provide timely recommendations to the President and relevant agencies on measures to curb possible price spikes and promote food and energy security,” Balisacan added.

The advisory group will also closely monitor global and regional developments and issues that may affect local commodity prices.

The Interagency Committee on Inflation and Market Outlook will be reporting to the President on a quarterly basis on food and energy supply-demand situation and outlook for the country.

“Recent data on economic and labor market performance indicate a robust and sustained recovery, especially with the reopening of the economy and strong consumer demand. However, foremost among our challenges this year is the relatively high level of inflation,” Balisacan said.

The PSA reported inflation in February 2023 remained elevated at 8.6 percent despite slightly easing from 8.7 percent in January this year.

Meanwhile, Balisacan said Marcos also approved the establishment of the Economic Development Group.

“With NEDA and DOF sitting as co-chairs, the group will assist the Executive Department in harmonizing, coordinating, complementing, and synergizing the efforts that will ensure the country’s rapid, inclusive, and sustained growth,” he added.

Members of the Economic Development Groups include heads of the Presidential Management Staff, DTI, DBM, DA, DOE, DOST, DILG, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Transportation, Department of Information and Communications Technology, Department of Tourism and Department of Labor and Employment.

The group may also request the participation of the central bank governor, as well as of other officials of relevant government agencies.

Balisacan said the creation of these high-level interagency bodies is part of the administration initiative to implement monetary and non-monetary measures to ease price pressures.

“With the creation of the Interagency Committee on Inflation and Market Outlook and the Economic Development Group, the Marcos Administration’s Economic Team is committed to directly addressing the root causes of high food prices to ensure food security, protect the purchasing power of Filipinos – especially that of the poor and vulnerable sectors – in the short term and is committed to ensure that our country remains on track to meet our poverty reduction targets for the medium term,” he added.