Senator Win Gatchalian is pushing for the creation of a multi-agency task force that would be responsible for mitigating the effects of rising inflation in the country.
“I think the Department of Finance (DOF) can probably create a task force to address inflation. It can be a multi-sectoral and multi-departmental task force so that we can come up with a holistic approach to curbing inflation,” Gatchalian said during a hearing held by the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs regarding the inflationary impacts of the Tax Reformation for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law.
Gatchalian, the chairman of the committee, said that although many of the mitigating measures presented by the different agencies in the economic cluster of the government could be implemented within 90 days, the lawmaker noted that these were “a hodgepodge of different measures and different strategies.”
“I would really like to have a unified approach to this issue and I think the right agency to do that is DOF, together with DBM (Department of Budget and Management),” he said.
During the hearing, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas revealed that the four major drivers for July 2018 inflation were rising food prices because of the weather; higher excise taxes on sweetened beverages and fuel, and the scheduled increase in excise tax of tobacco products; higher electricity generation charges and increase in water rates; and the approved provisional P1 jeepney minimum fare increase in the National Capital Region and Regions 3 and 4.
It was also revealed during the hearing that there were delays in the implementation of various social mitigation measures, including the 10 percent discount on rice sold by the National Food Authority (NFA), the Unconditional Cash Transfer program, and the Pantawid Pasada program. The NFA has admitted that it has yet to implement the 10 percent discount because no funding has been given by DBM.
Gatchalian said he plans to conduct more committee hearings “as long as inflation is an ongoing concern.”
“We can see that this year has been very volatile in terms of the fluctuations in prices. As long as inflation is an ongoing concern, we plan to conduct several more hearings,” he said.
“These are the times that we should be very vigilant. These are the times that we should be really on the ball with monitoring, analyzing, and enforcing inflation mitigation measures,” he added.
Gatchalian also said he hoped the concerned agencies would be able to present concrete progress in the implementation of these measures at future hearing.
“It’s really not only about getting information from the different departments, but also pushing the different departments to fulfill their promises to the people,” he said.