Friday, June 9, 2023

Solon Pushes For Rice Subsidy As Peso Weakens


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A party-list lawmaker on Saturday said the government should consider providing rice subsidy of 10 to 50 kilos for poor to middle-income households as the depreciation of the Philippine peso could lead to higher prices of goods and services and overall inflation.

In a statement, Bagong Henerasyon Party-list Representative Bernadette Herrera said local fuel prices will rise further because it now takes more pesos to import foreign oil.

“All the economic agencies must prepare for another surge of inflation because of the weakening of the peso. Hopefully, the weakening is only temporary like when the forex (foreign exchange) was at PHP54 to USD1.00 in September to October 2018,” Herrera said. “Economic forecasts indicate we will have high inflation for many more months until the inflation pressures have subsided.”

Last Friday, the peso depreciated further to 54.985 against the greenback from its 54.7 close a day ago.

Aside from rice subsidies, Herrera said there should be more subsidies for rice farmers, fisherfolk, livestock raisers, and vegetable growers, especially fuel subsidies and inputs in production, processing, postharvest, warehousing, transport, and marketing.

“The economic managers must act fast. They should also be ready for the impact of monsoon flooding, typhoons, and other disasters. Inventories of rice and other relief goods must be adequate and prepositioned,” she said.

Herrera said upward pressure is also expected on electricity, water, and telecoms rates because of added foreign exchange adjustment costs.

“Most important now is to keep food and utility prices low or stable. Rice, corn, wheat, sugar, and corn supplies must be enough to meet the consumption needs of households and production needs of animal feeds makers and livestock raisers,” she said.

Herrera also urged the Energy Regulatory Commission, wholesale electricity spot market, and water regulatory agencies to decide on any pending petitions and cases involving refunds and rebates.

For his part, Quezon Rep.-elect Reynan Arrogancia said the weakening of the peso is a “good boost for the dollar-earning tourism enterprises” and will “ease some of the pain” from elevated inflation and high fuel prices.

Arrogancia said the Department of Tourism should help promote the less famous tourist destinations where tourists’ dollars will have more impact than the more expensive but famous attractions.

“Tourism places like the beaches of Quezon facing the Tayabas Bay would gain from a high exchange rate of the peso to the dollar when foreign tourists and balikbayans come,” Arrogancia said. “Tourism is experiencing a resurgence now that the country has relaxed travel restrictions and Covid (coronavirus disease) spread is low.”

He noted that tourism shuttle operators should also be included in the provision of fuel subsidies, as well as more entrepreneurs in the transport sector.

“The high exchange rate favoring dollar earners is good timing for tourism, BPOs (business processing outsourcing), exporters with high local content, and for the ecozones. But fuel costs of the transport sector will continue to go up because of the high price of imported oil and petroleum products,” he said.

“So, I am reiterating my appeal to the DOTr (Department of Transportation) to speed up and expand the Pantawid fuel subsidies which are badly needed so motor vehicle operators will be protected from high fuel prices,” he added. (PNA) 

Photo Credit: Philippine News Agency


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