Palace blames high fuel costs for hard life

The Palace on Friday pointed to rising fuel prices in the world market as the reason behind the people’s sentiment in the latest Social Weather Stations survey, which showed more Filipinos believe their lives worsened during the second quarter of 2018.

While Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said over radio dzRH that Malacañang “understands” how the people feel, it remains optimistic the economy will improve.

“There are a lot of challenges because of the rising fuel prices in the world market. But there’s still hope that it will be better,” Roque said.

“The truth is, the fundamentals are there. Our economy is really improving, we only have fleeting challenges,” he added.

In its June 2018 survey, SWS found that 32 percent of adult Filipinos believed their lives have improved (“gainers”) while 27 percent of those polled said their lives worsened (“losers”), for a Net Gainers score of +5.

The score was 15 points below the Net Gainers score of 20 points in March 2018.

The survey also found that 49 percent of polled individuals expected their personal quality of life to improve in the next 12 months (“Optimists”), while 5 percent of those polled expected their lives to get worse (“Pessimists”), for a Net Personal Optimists score of +44. This was four points higher than the 40 points SWS recorded in March 2018.

Some 43 percent of the respondents said they were optimistic that the economy would bet better next year, while 13 percent said it would deteriorate, resulting in a Net Economic Optimists score of +30.

Net Economic Optimists refers to expectations about the general economy and is different from Net Personal Optimism, which refers to expectations about the respondent’s personal quality of life.

The survey was conducted from June 27 to 30 using face-to-face interviews with 1,200 adults nationwide.

The survey’s sampling error margins are ±3 percent for national percentages, and ±6 percent each for Metro Manila, Balance Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

On Friday, Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV pressed for the passage of his Bawas Presyo Bill, which aims to alleviate the suffering of poor families from high prices due to the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law.

Meanwhile, the consumer groupSamahan at Ugnayan ng mga Konsyumer para sa Ikauunlad ng Bayan (SUKI) lamented the slow distribution of unconditional cash transfers (UCT) under TRAIN.

The group also said that stopping TRAIN would be a more helpful measure in easing consumers’ inflation woes than government’s plan to import cheap fish and meat.

Noting recent government figures reporting a slowdown of growth in household consumption to include beverages, housing, electricity, gas and water, health, transport and education, SUKI said that spending for basic needs became harder for many Filipino households after the TRAIN law was enacted. Social mitigating measures have not only been slow to come, the group said, but difficult to retrieve. 

SUKI cited a Center for Women’s Resources report showing that the food budget of mothers from communities has risen from P200 to P256 at the onset of TRAIN during the first quarter of the year.

It was noted that many low-income families unable to afford these increases in the cost of goods and services are compelled to cut on consumption and feed their families less. “In urban poor communities, where incomes and jobs are quite precarious, families play a game of ‘imagine’ when there is only rice and no viand, or there is only water and no coffee, milk nor any other affordable beverage,” CWR said. With Macon Ramos-Araneta 

Topics: Social Weather Stations , Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque , Net Economic Optimists , Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law
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