Top officers of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) are taking the 6.4 percent August inflation rate in stride, even as they called on economic managers to apply the necessary remedial measures to counter price surges.
In a press conference Tuesday, PCCI Honorary Chairman Sergio Ortiz-Luis said the public has become focused on the inflation number “because it becomes political.”
Ortiz-Luis said the latest inflation figure is "not very alarming" and is "not very high," considering the country's history. He recounted that the Philippines has experienced higher inflation a decade ago and even recorded double-digit inflation rates in the past.
He also noted that based on studies, an economy that wants to grow by 7 percent to 8 percent cannot hold on to an inflation rate of only 2 percent to 3 percent. “Up to 8 percent is manageable,” Ortiz-Luis answered when asked about the level of inflation that the group would consider alarming.
He likewise echoed the government’s claim that the impact of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law to price pressures is minimal.
“We have been very much focused on the numbers in the inflation of 6.4 (percent). We are forgetting that this is just weighted average of certain products. While we are concerned that there is undue increases in certain items, 6.4 (percent inflation) is not something that should be alarming as a number,” he said.
Ortiz-Luis, who is also the president of the Philippine Exporters Confederation, Inc. (Philexport), noted that the focus of government should be bringing down the cost of food products and improving the availability of agricultural products. “Let’s focus on bringing down the cost, availability of rice, of the fish, of the vegetables, of sugar, and the fuel,” he added.
Meanwhile, PCCI Agriculture Committee Chairman Roberto Amores said the government should revisit outdated policies that are no longer contributing to its development agenda.
Amores said the PCCI has asked the Department of Agriculture and Sugar Regulatory Administration to allow the importation of sugar for domestic processors. In the past months, prices of sugar have also gone up.
“There are approximately 4,000 to 5,000 domestic food processors using sugar as ingredient, who are part of the more than 50 percent, micro, small, and medium enterprises, and benefitting 50 million to 60 million consumers and stakeholders that would take the brunt of high cost of sugary made products compared to the 50,000 to 60,000 farmers, which can be given alternative to source by shifting to high-value crop production,” he said.
“We sincerely hope that the Sugar Regulatory Board will heed our request to import,” he added.