Containing inflation a 'national imperative,' says Arroyo adviser

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 09 2018 09:26 AM

A vendor cleans fish at a Manila market. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA -- Containing inflation is a "national imperative," a lawmaker tasked by Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to draft measures in response to rising consumer prices said Thursday.

Aside from meat, fish was also removed from commodities that would be tariff-free. Flour, corn and rice that are used as farm inputs will stay on the proposed zero tariff list, said Albay Rep. Joey Salceda.

Salceda had proposed the slashing of tariffs on meat and fish. In the middle of a press briefing on Wednesday, he received a call from Arroyo telling him that meat was removed from the list.

"It’s my job to propose and the boss disposes," he told ANC's Headstart. Asked if "big poultry" could have lobbied against zero tariffs on meat, he said: "It stands to reason yes."

"It’s already a national imperative, not to cushion inflation, but to essentially contain it," Salceda said.

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Salceda said he also proposed the deferment of feed-in electricity tariffs and more interest rate hikes from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

Consumer prices rose 5.7 percent in July, exceeding the Bangko Sentral's goal for the fifth straight month and quickening for the seventh straight month. It was also the highest in data since January 2013.

Increased competition in the market due to cheaper imports "shifts the burden" on the Bangko Sentral for "strong policy action."

The BSP will likely raise its benchmark rate by 50 basis points during a policy meeting on Thursday. It will be the highest adjustment in 10 years and will bring the benchmark rate to 4 percent.