Marcos urged to prioritize addressing inflation, recovering pandemic losses


Posted at Jul 01 2022 12:11 PM | Updated as of Jul 01 2022 06:37 PM

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. delivers his inaugural address at the National Museum in Manila on June 30, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. delivers his inaugural address at the National Museum in Manila on June 30, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATED)— President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. should prioritize addressing inflation and recovering losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, economists said Friday.

Losses from lockdowns and the national growth for 2020 and 2021 are estimated at some P6.2 trillion, said Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda

"Panindigan lang yung isang sinabi niya (Marcos), na yung P6.2 trillion na nawala sa 'tin dahil sa COVID bawiin niya in the next 18 months. Because he himself has said it, although people did not give it too much ano [attention]," he told ANC's Headstart.

(He has to fulfill what he said, that in the next 18 months he will recover the P6.2 trillion that we lost due to COVID.)

"If you put a number to it, it’s roughly P6.3 trillion na nawala sa atin (that we lost) in nominal terms due to the pandemic."

Marcos Jr. said in his inaugural address on Thursday, "We do not look back but ahead; up the road that we must take to a place better than the one we lost in the pandemic: gains made and lost; opportunities missed; well-laid plans superseded by the pandemic." 

"Indeed, ours was the fastest-growing economy in ASEAN by ways now outdated. We shall be again by radical change in a way the world must now work to recover what we have lost in the fire. And move on from there," he added. 

The President should prioritize addressing inflation, Salceda said.

"Kitang-kita naman natin naghahanap agad ng budget para makapagbigay ng ayuda," he said.

(We can clearly see he's looking for budget for assistance.)

The P20 per kilo price of rice that Marcos said he wanted to achieve is a "grand ambition," Salceda added.

"You need to take this as an articulation of a grand national ambition to make the Philippines food secure and essentially competitive. You should not focus too much on, 'Is P20 doable,'" he said.

The lawmaker also said the Marcos administration could continue the "Build, Build, Build" projects of the Duterte administration through tax collection efficiency, non-regressive taxes, private-partnership program, foreign direct investments, privatization, and retaining infrastructure "close to 5.4 percent" of the gross domestic product.

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Economist Ramon Orosa, meanwhile, urged Marcos Jr. as the incoming Department of Agriculture secretary to push for the country's self-sufficiency in agriculture amid the tight food supply and high fuel prices brought by Russia's war with Ukraine. 

He also urged Marcos Jr. to increase the country's productivity and maintain peace and security. Former Agriculture Secretary William Dar earlier said his agency was monitoring a "looming food crisis." 

"Iisa lang ang paraan kasi kung paano gumanda ang kalagayan ng bansa at ng mga naninirahang mamamayan. Yun ang tinatawag nila na kailangan magkaroon ng pag-angat ng productivity ng mga... without any [decrease] in poverty, that country cannot be prosperous," said Orosa in a televised briefing.

"It is time for us to be self-sufficient in some of the most basic elements na kinakailangan natin dito sa ating bansa. There is no reason for us not to be self-sufficient in rice and corn. None whatsoever... how can we become a top agricultural producer that services the world," he added.

Government must also encourage industries to delve into self-sufficiency, increase productivity, and diversify their markets, noted the economist.

This will "ensure that we are not just dependent on one nation but we can also hold work after market to sell the goods that we can [in] here."

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said cushioning the country's poorest households from rising food prices and negative economic impact will be among the Marcos administration's priorities. 

In order to do this, Balisacan called for the strengthening of research and development in agriculture so the country may finally veer away from imports. 

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Video from PTV