Calibrated gov’t interventions needed to bring down food prices

Calibrated gov’t interventions needed to bring down food prices

MANILA – The inflation rate slightly decelerated in September 2021, aided by the government’s policies to ease food prices, the National Economic and Development Authority said Tuesday.

Based on the report of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the headline inflation rate slowed down to 4.8 percent in September 2021 from 4.9 percent in August 2021. This is at the lower end of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ forecast range of 4.8 percent to 5.6 percent for last month.

Food inflation decreased to 6.5 percent in September from 6.9 percent in August due to slower inflation rates in rice, fish, and meat.

Rice inflation recorded zero growth following the issuance of Executive Order No. 135. Likewise, fish inflation decelerated to 10.2 percent from 12.4 percent.

Meanwhile, meat inflation decreased to 15.6 percent from 16.4 percent, as pork inflation declined to 36.4 percent from 39 percent. Moreover, month-on-month meat inflation continued to decline at -1.6 percent, suggesting some price stabilization following the implementation of EOs No. 133 and 134.

“The proactive implementation of EOs 133 and 134 have helped stabilize pork prices. The government is continuously accelerating and calibrating its implementation so we can further lower pork prices towards their pre-African swine fever level,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said.

The government adopted EOs 133 and 134 in May 2021 to help increase the supply of pork in the country amid its shortage due to African swine fever. These interventions increased the minimum access volume (MAV) for imported pork, and imposed a temporary reduction of pork tariffs, respectively.

To expedite the utilization of the additional MAV, NEDA recommends reducing restrictions in the MAV plus so that imported pork can be sold in more areas and to unload more pork stocks in cold storages to the markets.

The average stocks of frozen pork in September (week 1 to week 3) increased to 79,042 MT from 73,159 MT in August 2021. The timely release of pork stocks will help address the supply gap and bring down pork prices.

On the other hand, to help augment the fish supply in the coming closed fishing season, the Department of Agriculture issued a Certificate of Necessity to Import (CNI) with a maximum importable volume of 60,000 metric tons of small pelagic fish such as galunggong, mackerel, and bonito for wet markets.

The government will proactively monitor the supply and demand of fish and immediately issue supplemental CNIs as necessary.

“To cover the expected supply gap during the upcoming closed fishing season, the government will temporarily allow more imports in the fourth quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022. The government will continue to proactively monitor the supply and demand of these commodities to ensure access to affordable food amid the pandemic,” Chua said. (PNA)

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