The chairperson of the House Ways and Means Committee urged the government to expedite the promised relief, including the targeted cash subsidies of P500 for low-income families, to help them cope with the rising prices of goods and oil prices.

Albay Representative Joey Salceda said the inflation rate for March at 4 percent is still cause for government action to provide relief to the poorest households, even as “the rate turned out to be still within the target range”.

“It’s at the cusp of breaking the target range, so it should definitely be treated as a trigger for more government action to provide relief,” Salceda said.

The veteran legislator said the House of Representatives is ready to provide the necessary appropriations cover or the necessary policy support.

“I also anticipate second-round effects to set in in other commodities.”

“I also anticipate second-round effects to set in in other commodities, although as oil prices have begun to stabilize, I am cautiously hopeful that inflation will not be significantly worse over the coming months,” the seasoned lawmaker said.

“While I expect some slowing down or even month-on-month disinflation in oil prices this April, the prices will still be high,” he added.

Salceda cautioned the government that the next commodity increases may come from baked goods, as wheat shortages are expected in May due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

“We should still see to it that we have adequate buffers of wheat, as that will be the next commodity that will see significant price increases due to this global situation,” he stressed.

Salceda said he is talking with concerned government agencies on the matter, noting that the Department of Science and Technology is promoting wheat substitutes.

He also recommended fortifying bread with other vitamins and minerals, so that if the ordinary consumer buys more expensive bread, they are also getting more by way of nutrition.

“The next administration will inherit this situation.”

“The next administration will inherit this situation, I have no doubt. So, food prices should always be part of the national conversation this election season,” Salceda explained.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, for his part, said there is no shortage of commodities like fuel, corn, and wheat despite the Russia-Ukraine war.

“It’s actually the anticipation of shortages that are driving up prices. It’s affecting us negatively but we’re confident that since our agriculture production in the Philippines, particularly for our staple food, is constant, especially our rice,” Dominguez said.

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported that headline inflation increased to 4 percent in March 2022 from 3 percent in the previous month.

The reported inflation rate is in line with the median analyst forecast of 4 percent and is within the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ forecast range of 3.3 to 4.1 percent.

The year-to-date inflation rate of 3.4 percent also remains within the 2 percent to 4 percent target range for the year.

To cushion the impact of rising prices, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said the government will distribute unconditional cash transfers worth P500 per month to the poorest 50 percent of households.

Around 115,000 public utility vehicle drivers and operators have also received P6,500 each under the Pantawid Pasada program.

“The government stands ready to support consumers, commuters, public transport drivers and operators, and agricultural producers to ease the impact of high oil and commodity prices.

As COVID-19 cases subside, we also aim to move the entire country to alert level 1 to provide more opportunities for Filipinos to earn and provide for their families amid inflationary pressures,” Chua added.



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