Sick pigs’ inflation impact a ‘concern’ but not worrisome—DOF
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III on Monday (Sept. 9) expressed concern over the inflationary impact of an outbreak of African swine fever in the Philippines, but said alternatives to pork were likely to cushion its effect.
In a message to reporters Dominguez acknowledged that the government’s confirmation of the presence of the virus — which is not known to pose a health risk to humans — was “a concern.”
“But there are substitutes to pork such as poultry, beef and fish,” he said.
The outbreak will adversely impact the Philippines P260-billion hog industry, but is unlikely to cause a spike in the country’s consumer price index which, though heavily weighted in favor of food items, consists of only a small percentage of pork.
According to data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, fresh, chilled or frozen meat — which includes pork, poultry and beef — account for only 4.8 percent of the economy’s inflation basket. In contrast, rice accounts for 9.6 percent of total inflation across the economy, according to the government statistics office’s 2012 price base.
Other traditionally volatile CPI components are fresh, chilled or frozen fish (4.3 percent), vegetables cultivated for their fruit (0.9 percent), vegetables cultivated for their roots (0.6 percent), corn (0.6 percent), and petroleum and fuels (2.0 percent).
On Monday, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said dead pigs found in some backyard farms in the Philippines tested positive for African swine fever based on results of laboratory tests of local samples in the UK.
The agriculture department estimated the total Philippine swine population at 12.7 million head, of which some 8 million pigs are raised in rural backyards while 4.7 million are in commercial farms.
To date, the country has banned pork and pork-based products from Belgium, Bulgaria, China, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Laos, Moldova, Mongolia, North Korea, Poland, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Ukraine, Vietnam and Zambia.
The biggest inflationary threat that monetary planners fear right now are potential increases in the cost of power or transportation, as well as the looming increase in taxes for alcohol.
The latest inflation rate stands at 1.7 percent for August, which is the lowest level in nearly three years./TSB