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Gov’t moves to control inflation uptick

MJ Blancaflor



The government is intensifying efforts to control the “temporary” price increases of goods, Malacañang said Saturday, after the Philippines’ inflation rate rose to a 26-month high, making it the highest among major economies in Southeast Asia.

The Philippines’ inflation rate quickened to 4.7 percent in February 2021, the fastest increase since the 5.1 percent recorded in December 2018.

It is also the fifth straight monthly acceleration, and follows the 4.2 percent inflation rate in January 2021.

Quoting economic managers, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the upward inflation trend is only “temporary.”

“Concerned agencies in the Executive branch continue to check the prices of basic commodities while ensuring that prevailing rates are likewise fair to suppliers,” Roque said.

“We are intensifying efforts to ease inflation through immediate interventions, such as augmenting the supply of meat,” the official added.

Roque cited the administration’s move to impose a 60-day price ceiling on selected pork and chicken products in Metro Manila after its costs soared as high as P450 per kilo due to limited supply.

He also said the government procured hogs from Visayas and Mindanao and Luzon provinces free from African swine fever (ASF) to bring down the prices of pork products.

However, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said the 60-day price cap on Metro Manila products did little to tame inflation.

“We saw prices of pork decrease in the National Capital Region because of the price cap, but as a result, prices went up in areas outside of Metro Manila as the supply was reduced. This impacted the overall increase in the prices,” PSA chief Dennis Mapa said in a briefing Friday.

The average price of fresh pork with bones went down to P299 per kilogram last month from P338 in January. However, it went up to P281 a kilo from P264 in areas outside Metro Manila, he said.

State statisticians said the continued uptick in inflation was largely caused by the spike in prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages at 6.7 percent, as well as transport costs.

In particular, meat inflation soared to 20.7 percent from 17.1 percent in January as the effects of the ASF continued to pull down supply. Price increases were also faster in vegetables and fish.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) earlier projected that February 2021 inflation would settle within the 4.3 percent to 5.1 percent range, citing higher global crude oil prices and fish prices.

The BSP expects inflation to average at 4 percent in 2021, based on its latest forecast issued 11 February.