Senator Win Gatchalian urged the government to come up with a comprehensive contingency plan to ensure a sufficient supply of rice, a major staple in the country, and counter the rising price of the grain.
Gatchalian made the call at the recent Senate briefing of the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) on the 2024 national budget.
“I would like to urge the government to seriously look into the situation because it’s not only going to affect inflation but more importantly food on the table for our own constituents,” Gatchalian said.
Citing India’s recent announcement of halting rice exports, which could further squeeze the availability of rice supply available for export, Gatchalian emphasized the government needs to come up with a specific contingency plan to arrest potential tightness in supply as well as price hikes, which could further drive inflation higher.
“Submit to us a contingency plan that you have put in place because I’m really worried that this export ban from other countries will affect us not only in terms of supply but also in terms of prices,” Gatchalian told members of the executive department’s economic team. Specifically, Gatchalian wants to find out whether the government has already secured rice supply for the near and medium term given disruptions of supply in the global market.
According to Gatchalian, the government’s contingency plan should also include programs to cushion the effect of typhoons and the El Nino phenomenon. An average of 20 typhoons hit the country every year. Also, the impact of El Nino is expected to peak in the country in the first quarter of next year.
The rising price of rice in the local market has prompted President Marcos to issue a warning that the government will run after hoarders and price manipulators. The average price of rice has already reached P45-50 per kilo.