MANILA - Concerned agencies and the administration's economic managers on Wednesday agreed to implement immediate reforms to reduce food inflation.
Inflation hurtled past forecasts to 6.4 percent in August, as food prices rose, government data showed.
In a social media post, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said an initial meeting was held with the Department of Finance (DOF), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Justice (DOJ), Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) and the National Food Authority (NFA) Council to address food inflation.
During the meeting, the DA committed to replicate the issuance of "certificates of necessity" allowing imported fish to be distributed in wet markets, the statement said.
Meanwhile, the DTI and the DA agreed to convene and decide on a setup to allow poultry producers to sell products directly to consumers to alleviate rising costs.
The NFA agreed to "immediately release" 4.6 million available sacks of rice from its warehouse to the market to augment supply, while 2.7 million sacks will be allocated for Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi to address reported shortages, the statement said.
The NEDA said the NFA Council has also authorized the importation of 5 million sacks of rice, expected to arrive as early as next month, and another 5 million sacks next year.
The DTI, NFA, Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) committed to form a monitoring team for surveillance of the transport of rice from ports to NFA warehouses and retail outlets.
To aid in supply issues, the Bureau of Customs said it would prioritize the release of essential food items from ports.
The Sugar Regulatory Administration, meanwhile, "will open" importation of sugar to direct users to moderate costs, the NEDA said.
Economic managers, meanwhile, agreed to recommend to the President the issuance of a directive simplifying procedure for importing rice. They also urged lawmakers to immediately pass the Rice Tariffication Bill this month, the NEDA said.
No measures to alleviate rising prices of vegetables were put in place, however, as the group expects "to see relief" after the typhoon season.
The joint statement reiterated that inflation would "taper off" towards the latter part of the year before falling back within the government's 2- to 4-percent target range in 2019.
"We remain steadfast in putting forward and accelerating these measures that will address food prices for all Filipinos," the statement said.