NEDA says Philippine economic managers to meet Monday amid rise in fuel prices

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 05 2022 06:26 PM

Members of urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) hold a “price hike protest” at the San Roque Public Market in Quezon City on March 04, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
Members of urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) hold a “price hike protest” at the San Roque Public Market in Quezon City on March 04, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Philippine economic managers will meet on Monday to discuss measures to mitigate the impact of rising fuel prices, just as inflation remained steady last month, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said on Saturday. 

NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon told state-run PTV that her agency will talk over the matter with top officials in Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and the Department of Finance. 

Inflation in February remained unchanged at 3 percent despite Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Philippine Statistics Authority said Friday.

Analysts have agreed that inflation could rise in the near term to reflect the impact of the ongoing tensions between the two countries.

"Iyong sa February po iyong nakita natin ‘no na hindi pa masyadong nakaapekto iyong oil price increase noon. Pero siyempre iba na naman ang magiging kalakaran pagdating nitong March ‘no, kasi siyempre mag-uumpisa na naman siya sa mataas, then pataas nang pataas," Edillon said. 
 
"Binabantayan namin nang mabuti talaga iyong kalakaran sa presyuhan ng langis, of course iyong nangyayari sa Ukraine and Russia and then kung paano ang magiging epekto nito at ano iyong puwedeng magawa ng pamahalaan para dito," she added.

NEDA will present an analysis, she said, and check the estimates so they could present measures for the meantime or in the long-run. 

"Titingnan po namin kung ano iyong lumalabas sa aming mga estimates para dito at kasama na rin po iyon pag-uusap ng… ano na iyong dapat nating gawin dito," the NEDA official explained. 

"‘Pag once nakuha namin iyong estimate saka—kasi ganoon din po sa dati—tulad ng dati naming mga ginagawa, ano iyong immediate na kailangang ibigay natin na solusyon, ano iyong short term and then of course iyong medium and the long term solution," she added.

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During the same briefing, the Department of Energy (DOE) said there were discussions with the Philippine National Oil Corp. (PNOC) on a strategic petroleum reserve program for the country should a shortage occur.

Lawyer Rino Abad, director of the DOE's oil industry management bureau, said that based on his agency's monitoring as of February 28, the country has an average of "more than 40 days" of available oil supply. 

President Rodrigo Duterte this week approved some P3 billion in subsidies and discount for drivers, farmers, and fisherfolk due to soaring fuel prices. 

Malacañang likewise said Duterte approved boosting local food production to bolster the economy as tensions in Europe escalated.

Pump prices are estimated to soar by as much as P3 to P5 per liter next week, based on industry estimates, an effect of the conflict in Ukraine.

This developed as the Philippines saw a 10th straight price hike in oil products, amplified further by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in what is considered the biggest attack in Europe since World War II.