Duterte order 'strong first step' to fight inflation: Arroyo adviser

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 13 2018 09:32 AM | Updated as of Sep 13 2018 09:47 AM

A vendor waits for customers at a rice and egg shop in Paranaque, Metro Manila, Philippines. Erik De Castro, Reuters/File

MANILA -- President Rodrigo Duterte's upcoming issuance that will liberalize rice imports is a "strong first step" to tame rising consumer prices, an economic adviser to one of his allies said Thursday.

If the executive order is implemented fully, inflation could be slowed to 6.1 percent in September from 6.4 percent in August, said Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's "focal person" on counter inflation measures.

The issuance will also settle the "raging contentious relations between the NFA Council and the NFA," Salceda told ANC's Early Edition.

The National Food Authority or NFA is the state grains procurement agency while the NFA Council is in import policy-setting body that includes the NFA and government economic managers.

With the order, Duterte is telling the NFA and the NFA Council that: "Ito, kailangan ko gawin para mapababa inflation (This is what I have to do to slow inflation.)

"It is a strong first step kasi may mga liberalization measures na yan, like sino'ng puwedeng mag import ng bigas (there are liberalization measures, like who can import rice)," he told ANC.

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.

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In a nationally televised interview on Tuesday, Duterte said his economic managers were "working" on measures to address inflation, on top of measures announced earlier.

Duterte also said he was looking for a replacement for NFA Administrator Jason Aquino, who asked to be relieved from his post.

Malacañang said Wednesday Duterte's economic managers would submit a draft EO that seeks to remove "administrative constraints and non-tariff barriers" in the importation of rice, meat, sugar and vegetables.