Gov’t vows reforms in agriculture sector to keep prices low
The Duterte administration is committed to continue introducing reforms in the agriculture sector to keep consumer prices low, the head of the economic team said.
“We will focus on agriculture in the coming years. We know that the major reason for the inflation this year has been the logistics problems we have had in agriculture as well as production problems,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said in a statement on Monday.
Inflation—or the rate of increase in prices of basic commodities—hit more than nine-year highs in recent months partly due to domestic food supply bottlenecks, especially of rice.
Headline inflation averaged 5.2 percent in the first 11 months, above the government’s target range of 2-4 percent.
But the administrative orders issued by President Duterte in September that eased food importation, alongside the expected removal of the rice import quota and eventual tariffication of the Filipino staple, are expected to bring back inflation within government target in 2019.
Once enacted into law, the rice tariffication bill is expected to slash rice prices by as much as P7 a kilo.
Also, Dominguez noted that during the recent “Sulong Pilipinas” road shows held in La Union, Pampanga, Cebu and Davao, many micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) sought “improving agricultural output and raising farmers’ incomes through education and the use of new farm technologies,” making it the “No. 1 actionable recommendation of the private sector.”
“Even the business community recognizes the importance of the farm sector in sustaining the economy’s high growth rate,” he said.
The country’s chief economist last week also urged concrete steps to address climate change, noting the phenomenon posed risks to the agriculture sector’s productivity and the country’s food security.
During the launch of the book “The Future of Philippine Agriculture Under a Changing Climate: Policies, Investments and Scenarios,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia highlighted the vital role of agriculture in inclusive growth. He said the sector accounted for 31.5 percent of the labor force and was also the primary source of raw materials for manufacturing and services.
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