SPEAKER Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo urged the economic managers of President Rodrigo Duterte to act faster in resolving inflation.
Arroyo was asked to react on the rising inflation which reached 6.7 percent in September as reported by the Philippine Statistics Authority.
The increasing rate of inflation also happened during Arroyo’s presidency but it was immediately addressed.
“Well what I can say is that it happened to me before but then within a few months we were able to bring it down to 1.5 percent, so it can be done. And my advice is for the economic team to move faster on implementation of their policies which are more or less correct,” Arroyo said in an interview.
Arroyo said since inflation is most felt by the people in the prices of food, the government should focus on the agriculture sector.
The former President pointed out the low budget given to the Department of Agriculture (DA) during the previous administration.
“As we were analyzing the budget, we realized that from 6 percent of the budget in my time, agriculture went down afterwards to 1.5 percent. No wonder we have shortage of food because after my administration, in the previous administration to this one, the growth of agriculture became negative so there is really a correlation between what you do in the budget and what happens to the sector,” she said.
Because of this, Arroyo said, Congress will study further on how to boost the budget of DA, possibly adding P20 billion more.
“I’m trying to see whether we can increase the budget of the DA this time to P20 billion which is a very, very tall order but that’s what I am trying to tell the committee that’s doing the amendments,” the House leader.
The House of Representatives has approved on second reading the proposed 2019 budget amounting to P3.757 trillion and formed a small committee to study possible amendments before the third reading approval.
Arroyo earlier proposed at least five measures to address inflation.
These include reviewing tariffs and support to the agriculture and fishery sectors.
After the inflation rate for September hit the 6.7% mark, opposition senators asked the Duterte administration to quickly resolve the problem and keep from creating diversionary issues.
“Clearly, now is a time of solutions — concrete, immediate, and devoid of the usual politicking,” said part of the statement of the opposition released by Senator Bam Aquino.
The opposition is reacting to the seeming shrugging of shoulders by the administration saying that the inflation rate is not a problem. They also hit the economic managers for cold-shouldering the suspension of the second round of fuel excise tax despite gas prices reaching P60 per liter.
“The promised unconditional cash transfer — a palliative that in itself is enough only for a handful of meals — has not been fully or properly implemented,” Aquino said.
The opposition added that instead of spreading paranoia and engage in too much politicking, the administration must quickly undertake solutions.
They are proposing to make rice available to all, disregard exorbitant NFA retailers’ fees for the sale of NFA rice in the supermarkets, stop the implementation of the second tranche of fuel excise tax., release and raise the government cash transfers, hear the proposal to lower VAT to 10% and investigate all allegations of official misconduct and hold the corrupt accountable.
With Marlon Purificacion