Duterte economic team targets food in inflation-taming EO


Posted at Sep 13 2018 04:26 PM

A woman waits for customers inside a food market in Paranaque, Metro Manila. Erik De Castro, Reuters/File

MANILA -- President Rodrigo Duterte's economic team submitted to him on Thursday an executive order aimed at taming food inflation, one of its members said.

The issuance will remove administrative and non-tariff barriers on food imports, and will "zero in" on fish, rice, sugar, meat and vegetables, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said.

"The issuance of the executive order as well as quick implementation of immediate and short-term measures will address the supply issues that have been driving up inflation," Pernia said.

The EO will be a "strong first step" to liberalize rice imports and has the potential to slow inflation to 6.1 percent in September from 6.4 percent in August, said economist and Albay Rep. Joey Salceda.

Rice, the main driver of food prices, saw inflation of 7.1 percent in August, while the headline rate accelerated to 6.4 percent, exceeding government and market forecasts.

Pernia said the EO would "jump off" from earlier announced measures, including the immediate release of rice by the National Food Authority and the speedy passage of a law that will put tariffs on rice in place of import quotas.

Cold storage facilities will be set up to allow producers to sell fish and chicken directly to consumers. This will also allow faster distribution of imports, he said.

Medium and long term measures include boosting agricultural production through resilient and high-yield crops and reassessing the planting season and crop viability per region, he said.