The economy is in a position to recover its losses and bounce back from the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019, with the inflation rate on a downward trajectory, Acting National Economic and Development Authority director-general and Economic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said Wednesday.
Consumer prices in April further slowed to a five-month low of 2.2 percent from 2.5 percent in March, pulled down by the decrease in the indices of transport, alcoholic beverages, and tobacco.
The rate was the slowest since 1.3 percent in November 2019. It was also slower than 3 percent in April a year ago, bringing the average inflation rate in the first four months to 2.6 percent, way below the midpoint of the target range of 2 to 4 percent.
“The steady inflation outlook over the past several months clearly demonstrates the tangible benefits of the Rice Tariffication Law, strong economic growth over the past three years, and improvements in logistics through the Build, Build, Build program,” Chua said.
“This steady outlook will support our efforts to restore economic growth, and will keep essential goods affordable for our people,” he said.
Chua said continued deflation in the operation of personal transport equipment and electricity, gas, and other fuels helped keep prices down.
Chua also underscored the need to continue government efforts to keep the supply and price of essential commodities stable, especially with the extension of enhanced community quarantine in high-risk areas in the country.
“We need to ensure supply chains are not disrupted. We also need to beef up our efforts to boost agricultural production in the near term to ensure a sufficient supply of key food items in the domestic market. This entails, among others, accelerating the implementation of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) to help rice farmers improve productivity in the next planting season,” Chua said.
He added the national government would actively engage the private sector and local government units to ensure the seamless flow of essential goods in quarantine areas.
“We encourage investments in post-harvest facilities, cold storage, and logistics support for perishable goods to reduce product wastage brought about by reported delays in transport of goods in ECQ checkpoints,” Chua said.
Chua stressed the need to closely monitor other significant factors that may affect the country’s near-term inflation rate. These include risks from the African Swine Fever, weather-related disturbance in agriculture when the rainy season starts, and higher import price during the COVID-19 pandemic as global supply chains become constrained.