While the inflation rate increased from 4.2 percent in January to 4.7 percent in February 2021, the inflation target remains at 2 to 4 percent as the government intensifies efforts to address higher food prices, said the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

The faster inflation in February 2021 was mainly driven by food inflation, which accelerated to 7 percent from 6.6 percent last month. This is due to the continuous outbreaks of African Swine Fever (ASF) in the country and decreased local production of cattle and poultry from the previous year.

Nevertheless, inflation for food items eased for vegetables (16.7 percent from 21.2 percent) and fruits (7.4 percent from 9.0 percent), other cereal products (1.8 percent from 2.1 percent), sugar and other sweetened products (0.2 percent from 0.3 percent), and corn (1.5 percent from 1.6 percent). Headline inflation in NCR also eased to 4.1 percent in February 2021 from 4.3 percent in January 2021.

“The government’s proactive and immediate interventions have kept or eased inflation for essential food items such as rice, vegetables, and fruits. We will continue working to augment the supply of meat, particularly pork, to ensure that Filipinos have access to affordable, nutritious, and adequate food,” said Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua.

To temper food inflation, the cabinet level Committee on Tariff and Related Matters (CTRM) has proposed to temporarily lower most favored nation (MFN) tariffs for pork and rice in consultation with various stakeholders. This complements the proposed significant increase in the minimum access volume (MAV) for pork. According to the Department of Agriculture (DA), they have proposed to increase the MAV for pork from the current 54,000 to over 400,000 metric tons for this year.

“We are fast-tracking policies determined to stabilize food supply to ensure that households affected by COVID-19 and the quarantines will not be doubly affected by the increase in food prices,” the NEDA chief added.

Chua added that hog repopulation programs in ‘green zones’ or African Swine Fever-free areas need to be prioritized. The program includes the provision of swine livelihood enterprise, establishment of breeder multiplier farms, and intensive and modernized production.

Furthermore, he underscored the need to facilitate the unhampered delivery of agriculture and fishery products and the continued strict implementation of the Food Resiliency Protocol in coordination with local government units.

“This highlights the need for adequate logistics services. We will work with concerned government agencies to regularly assess the supply-demand situation for logistics services in their area and ensure that prevailing rates are fair for both commuters and operators,” said Chua.

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