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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Gov’t watches impact of El Nino, La Niña on prices

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The government is ramping up efforts to shield Filipinos’ purchasing power from the effects of El Niño and La Niña on food and energy supplies, Finance Secretary Ralph Recto said over the weekend.

“The Inter-Agency Committee on Inflation and Market Outlook is all hands on deck in monitoring weather-related disturbances as well as other external factors and their effects on the prices of essential goods to protect Filipinos’ purchasing power,” Recto said.

“Mitigating the effects of inflation, especially on our vulnerable sectors, is our top priority,” he said.

“Rest assured, we are doubling down on our efforts to address the ongoing El Niño situation while actively preparing for the anticipated La Niña phenomenon in the latter part of the year,” Recto said.

El Niño is characterized by abnormally dry and hot weather that brings drought or dry season, while La Niña is associated with above-normal rainfall that results in flooding.

Despite the ongoing onslaught of El Niño in March, the government managed to keep the inflation rate at 3.7 percent, within the target band of 2 percent to 4 percent, due to vigorous implementation of measures that ensured sufficient imports of key commodities and improved agricultural production.

To boost agricultural production and help farmers affected by El Niño, the Department of Agriculture (DA) will continue to provide Fertilizer Discount Vouchers (FDVs).

The DA is also supporting the rehabilitation of irrigation systems, targeted cloud seeding operations, and the promotion of water-saving technology that rice farmers can apply to reduce their water use in irrigated fields.

Meanwhile, the government provided farmers with P362.56 million worth of financial assistance through the Rice Farmers Financial Assistance (RFFA).

The Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) allotted P500 million under the Survival and Recovery (SURE) Loan Program to assist 20,000 borrowers, including farmers and fisherfolk, who will be affected by calamities in 2024.

To mitigate rising electricity prices, the government encourages distribution utilities to avail of the Anti-Bill Shock Program to protect end-users from a sudden increase in electricity rates by allowing electric cooperatives to implement rate adjustments on a staggered basis.

A lifeline rate subsidy program, implemented since January 2024, ensures that the marginalized sector is protected from the burden of high electricity prices. Eligible consumers can receive a 100-percent discount on their monthly bills through this program.

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