With the peso weakening and prices of basic goods and services spiraling out of control, these are tough times indeed – especially for the jobless and even the self-employed.
For millions of impoverished Filipinos who can barely afford three meals a day, the “unexpected” new five-year high inflation rate of 5.2 percent for June, which apparently surprised our country’s economic managers, is certainly worrisome.
And there’s more bad news on the horizon – before the economic situation gets better, it’s bound to get even worse, at least in the coming months, gauging from Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia’s recent statement that he expects inflation to peak this third quarter of the year.
While our economic managers tried to quell public anxieties, saying the weakening of the peso and rising inflation would eventually taper off soon, many were taken aback by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr.’s attempt to downplay the situation.
“There’s money going around, that’s why we have inflation – there’s money from the free tuition, from the taxes, there’s money because of the Build, Build, Build – but it is not something to worry about,” Roque explained in a press briefing. “It’s within historical amounts, it’s higher than usual but it’s something we should not be alarmed with.”
Apparently prompted by Roque’s effort to dismiss the impact of accelerating consumer prices hurting Filipinos whose weakened purchasing power is being eroded further, Sen. Panfilo Lacson responded on Twitter: “High inflation rate and weak peso – Don’t justify; do something.”
Something ought to be done indeed for the sake of those hardest hit by hard times – the unemployed and the self-employed whose lack of a fixed or regular income doesn’t allow them to benefit from the income tax exemption provided by the TRAIN Law that has amplified inflation.
But it wouldn’t be accurate to solely blame TRAIN for inflation when the main culprit is rising prices of crude oil in the international market that adversely affect production costs across the economy.
Another culprit is the weakened peso that reached its lowest level against the dollar in 12 years because of rising interest rates in the United States, attracting fund managers to dollar-denominated investments instead of the peso-denominated.
Aggravating the situation was the tight rice supply especially when the low-priced NFA rice was nowhere to be found for months.
Taming inflation should now be government’s top priority. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilpinas must act decisively and hike interest rates to a level that would effectively control inflation. Also, a new law to amend the 1996 Agricultural Tariffication Act must be enacted to allow private traders to import rice –subject to government tariff – in quantities needed to bring down prices and ensure adequate supply of the staple food.
And the Build, Build, Build program must be pursued with honest-to-goodness “Spend, Spend, Spend.” COA said only P222.66 billion of the DPWH budget – or 33.6 percent of its P662.69 billion 2017 budget – was disbursed “due to the delayed/non-implementation of infrastructure projects.”
To help the jobless, the strengthened Public Employment Service Office (PESO) Act, RA 10691, must be fully implemented to facilitate employment at grassroots level. It calls for establishing PESOs in all provinces, cities, and municipalities, to be funded and operated by LGUs and linked to DoLE central and regional offices for coordination and technical support.
Implementing more urgent measures to help impoverished Filipinos survive tough times has become more compelling than ever.
PACQUIAO VS. MATTHYSSE AT KIA THEATRE
Boxing fans can have a tremendous viewing experience at Araneta Center’s Kia Theatre this Sunday where the much-awaited match between Sen. Manny Pacquiao and Argentine Lucas Matthysse will be shown live starting around 9 a.m.
For those who aren’t able to watch the bout at the Axiata Arena in Malaysia, the best seat in Metro Manila is in Kia Theatre with its giant high-definition screen measuring 40 feet x 20 feet and its immersive sound system that would capture the intense action for fans to enjoy the most vivid details in the “Fight of Champions.”
Ticket prices for the screening – a partnership between Kia Theatre and Cignal – are affordable. For just P500, the public may buy VIP or Loge tickets which come with meals. Balcony tickets are available at just P300. Tickets are available at Ticketnet outlets and online thru www.ticketnet.com.ph. Ticket buyers may also contact 911-5555.
This Sunday’s bout is the first time Pacquiao is fighting anew since his loss to Jeff Horn in July 2017. That setback is expected to fuel Pacquiao’s desire to win over Matthysse, the reigning WBA world welterweight champion.