Econ managers confident of within-target 2019 inflation rate

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MANILA – Economic managers recently vowed the continued implementation of monetary and non-monetary measures to ensure the achievement of within-target inflation this 2019.

In a joint statement, the economic managers noted the deceleration of inflation rate last January to 4.4 percent, lower than the median forecast of 4.5 percent, from 5.1 percent in the previous year.

The decline in inflation rate was attributed mainly to slower rate of the food and non-alcoholic beverages index to 5.6 percent from last December’s 6.7 percent.

“This is on account of the continuous improvement in the country’s food supply, particularly rice, corn, and fish,” the statement said.

It noted that rice inflation, for one, posted a slower rate of 4.7 percent from 6 percent at the end of 2018.

Inflation of corn slowed to 0.9 percent from month-ago’s 2.7 percent and fishes to 7.8 percent from double-digit in the previous month.

The economic managers said slower inflation rate was noted in all regions.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that inflation in the National Capital Region (NCR) slowed down from 4.8 percent last December to 4.6 percent and in Areas Outside NCR (AONCR) from 5.3 percent to 4.4 percent.

The index for petroleum and fuel for transport equipment declined to 1.8 percent from 4.1 percent last December and this contributed to lower transportation cost and utility rates, and in turn, to domestic inflation rate.

Economic managers said the lower-than-expected inflation rate last January “gives us an auspicious start in our efforts this year to keep inflation manageable and bring it back to the government’s target range of 2 to 4 percent for 2019.”

“Therefore, we are confident that inflation will further ease in the near term and settle at 3.2 percent and 3.0 percent in 2019 and 2020, respectively, as seen by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas,” the statement reads.

The economic managers, meanwhile, stressed that “while the inflation’s decelerating trend is something we have anticipated, we remain driven to be bolder and more focused on our overall anti-inflationary measures.”

“The economic team continues to push for the full implementation of non-monetary and administrative measures to stave off possible supply bottlenecks that have caused prices of key agricultural commodities to surge last year,” they said.

“There is a resounding consensus among members of the Economic Development Cluster that the agriculture sector needs greater attention now more than ever. The agriculture sector must work towards resiliency and be adaptive to extreme weather events,” they added.

This is on top of other measures such as the rice tariffication, which is expected to be enacted into law soon; the operationalization of the National Single Window to facilitate seamless trade transactions; and, planting of high-value crops to make farmers more adaptive and resilient to changing weather conditions.

The economic managers also urged the Department of Agriculture “to facilitate a comprehensive crop management system to align farming activities with the prevailing supply-demand condition and weather pattern.”

“In the fishery sector, sustainable management of coastal and other marine resources should be intensified, more so with the reported decline of available fish in open waters,” they said.

They also called for the “timely release of the unconditional cash transfers and fuel vouchers for public utility jeepneys to cushion the impact of inflation on the society’s vulnerable sectors and mitigate possible second-round effects.”

“All these are part of the government’s commitment to boost economic growth in all dimensions and improve the quality of living for everyone,” they added. (PNA)

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