Senator and presidential aspirant Manny Pacquiao
By Tracy Cabrera
MANILA — After questioning the Department of Agriculture’s decision to import some 60,000 metric tons of “galunggong” to address an alleged fish shortage, incumbent Senator and presidential aspirant Manny Pacquiao is calling on the government to strengthen the country’s agricultural sector as growth in this area will be the key to ensuring that the Philippines can sustain its high economic growth levels this year.
Pacquiao’s appeal came after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasted an “economic turbulence” among emerging economies like the Philippines, caused by developments in the United States monetary policy and the Omicron coronavirus variant surge.
In a recent post, IMF economists Stephan Danninger, Kenneth Kang and Helene Poirson said that policymakers may need to react by pulling multiple policy levers depending on the actions of the US Federal Reserve System, as well as challenges in their respective countries.
“While the global recovery is projected to continue this year and next, risks to growth remain elevated by the stubbornly resurgent pandemic. Given the risk that this could coincide with faster Fed tightening, emerging economies should prepare for potential bouts of economic turbulence,” the IMF warned.
Reacting to the IMF forecast, Pacquiao’s economic advisers have pointed out to the People’s Champ the importance of having a strong agricultural sector and this has prompted Pacquiao to urge the Duterte administration to invest more in agriculture since the strength of this sector would determine general inflation and wage pressures.
Pacquiao also expressed his support even as he agreed that expediting the rollout of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund, improving biosafety in agricultural imports, implementation of the rice farmers’ financial assistance program, and commencing a subsidy program for organic fertilizers are some key agenda items that Congress should immediately work on.
He likewise concurred that policy reforms to modernize farms and fisheries, promote sustainable forestry, and lower the costs of fertilizers and feeds are key areas for reforms that the government has to work on in the final months of the Duterte administration.
In ending, the Filipino boxing icon-turned-lawmaker stressed that our agriculture authorities should push for the inclusion of the said areas in the Strategic Investment Priorities Plan which would allow farmers and even our fisher folk to qualify for tax incentives under the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) Act.
“Mahalaga na mapalakas at mapaunlad natin ang ating agrikultura dahil dito rin nakasalalay ang ating kinabukasan. Kung nais nating umasenso at maging isang maunlad na ekonomiya, kailangan nating suportahan ang sektor ng agrikultura upang hindi na tayo didepende sa importasyon at mapapataas natin ang lokal na produksyon para tayo na mismo ang mag-e-export ng ating mga produktong agrikultura,” Pacquiao concluded.