Inflation eases in February 2023, gov’t to recalibrate mitigating strategies—NEDA

(Reuters photo)

As the inflation rate eases in February 2023, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) stressed the need to recalibrate government strategies to alleviate the impact of higher commodity prices.

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported today that the country’s headline inflation rate marginally slowed down to 8.6 percent in February 2023 from 8.7 percent in January 2023, as price increases of certain food commodities and energy eased.

However, energy and food inflation remained the top contributors to inflation, accounting for 1.0 and 0.9 percentage points (ppt), respectively. This was followed by restaurant services contributing 0.8 ppt and house rentals with 0.7 ppt. Meanwhile, public transport contributed 0.6 ppt.

“We must rethink our strategies to combat rising food prices. The country’s current high inflation is largely driven by domestic, supply-side constraints. Agricultural imports were ill-timed and food supplies have been inadequate. The solution is to get to the root of the problem, including fixing the bottlenecks along all segments of the agricultural value chain,” said NEDA Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan.

“We recommend the urgent creation of a high-level inter-agency committee to advise the President and the Cabinet on measures to keep food prices stable and ensure food security for all Filipinos, especially the poor whose expenditures are largely constituted by food. We must immediately address this issue if we are to remain on track to meeting our poverty reduction targets for the medium term,” he added.

The country’s chief economist also underscored the importance of targeted social protection programs in helping the nation’s poorest families and vulnerable sectors cope with the impact of inflation.

“The government continues to implement calibrated and swift measures to arrest inflation and its impact, including addressing supply issues especially in food products, providing targeted cash transfers and social protection programs to the most vulnerable sectors of the society, and ensuring access to affordable and reliable energy sources,” Balisacan said.

“These short-term assistance programs will be complemented by productivity- and efficiency-enhancing measures in the medium term, as outlined in the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028,” Balisacan added.


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