MANILA — President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s pick for the next agriculture secretary will be vital in tempering the country’s elevated inflation, Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda said Tuesday.
Inflation accelerated to 5.4 percent in May, faster than the 4.9 percent in April and is way beyond the government target of 2 to 4 percent.
Food and transport including gas are among the biggest contributors to the inflation, government data showed.
The ongoing crisis between Russia and Ukraine is also affecting world crude oil prices and recently, other global commodity prices such as wheat. Both Russia and Ukraine are importers of wheat that is milled into flour.
“As the cause of price increases remain primarily external, we will have little choice but to adapt,” Salceda said in a statement.
“President-elect Marcos’s pick for Agriculture Secretary will be all-important as we deal with inflation in the coming months,” he added.
The government must implement measures to subsidize vulnerable sectors such as transport, agriculture, and the poorest households, Salceda said.
"I am concerned that the poor are getting hit harder than everyone else in this...This emphasizes the need to expedite any subsidies still undistributed," Salceda said.
"The immediate impact inflation will have on the poorest households will be in nutrition. As face-to-face classes resume, we also have to implement aggressively the nationwide feeding program required by law, to supplement food intake among children from low-income households," he added.
He said he would follow up on the administration's "promised" monthly ayuda "since that was what we accepted in lieu of suspending fuel excise taxes."
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier approved fuel subsidies for the most vulnerable sector in lieu of suspending fuel excise tax amid the rising prices of oil.
Marcos Jr. has not named his nominee for agriculture secretary to replace incumbent DA chief William Dar.