MANILA – For opposition lawmakers at the House of Representatives, the drop in the inflation rate for January 2019 should not be a cause for celebration, as it does not necessarily mean that prices of basic goods and services have gone down.
In a statement, Akbayan party-list representative Tom Villarin compared the 4.4-percent inflation rate in January 2019 to “calm waters,” but it is not “calm sailing.”
“It only means less money in circulation as a post-Christmas effect on spending. It has not taken into account the new round of increases in excise taxes on fuel and rising global prices of oil,” he said.
“It doesn’t mean prices of goods have gone down nor it strengthened the purchasing power of an ordinary Filipino worker,” he added.
Villarin said that if contractualization will persist and workers will not receive salary increases and more benefits, inflation will continue to hit them just the same.
For their part, Gabriela Women’s Party representatives Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas said the drop in inflation rate only shows a temporary deceleration of price hikes, and should not be mistaken for lower prices.
“The inflation slowdown is not even enough to relieve consumers from last year’s price shock mainly caused by the implementation by TRAIN Law,” they said.
De Jesus and Brosas said that the inflation will only be further brought down when regressive taxes under the TRAIN Law will be scrapped.
Bayan Muna party-list representative Carlos Zarate echoed their statement, saying that Malacañang should junk the TRAIN Law or suspend the excise tax on oil products before prices continue to explode.
“Even if Malacañang spinmasters will continue to paint a rosy picture, it cannot hide the fact that the poor majority are still suffering from the high inflation induced by TRAIN. A run-away TRAIN will only result to a headline run-away inflation,” he said.
“If Malacañang is not going to move then it is imperative that the Supreme Court decide to declare the anti-people provision of the TRAIN law unconstitutional before it is too late,” he added.
Anakpawis party-list representative Ariel Casilao, on the other hand, said that while the 4.4-percent inflation rate last month is lower than December 2018’s 5.1 percent, it remains higher than the projected rate of 2 to 3 percent.
“Lower inflation rates, never meant lower prices, it just that the increases are lower, thus, the cost of living is still swelling, but on the other hand, the wages, income, the purchasing power of the poor is not growing,” he said.
“The poor sectors, who are hardly hit by inflation, should decisively assert their rights to an economy that is democratic, nationalist, and does not favor the elite few and foreign monopoly, otherwise, suffer worsening misery and hardships that will be inherited by the next generation,” he added.
The Palace earlier said the government will continue to be “on guard” regarding price movements of basic commodities even after inflation slowed further in January.
Still, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Palace was “pleased” with the latest inflation report.
“Last year, soaring prices caused by uncontrollable factors tested our will as a nation. Not disheartened nor cowed, we rose to the challenge as a people. With the President’s strong and decisive action, we remained focused and steadfast as we addressed the conditions that contributed significantly to inflation,” he said. (GMA News)