Gatchalian to lead Senate probe on rising prices

Gatchalian to lead Senate probe on rising prices

NAGA CITY, Philippines – Motorists and passersby are reflected on a display case of a bakery in Naga City, juxtaposing bread, price tags and a busy marketplace, July 2015 file image. Senate Committee on Economic Affairs chair Senator Win Gatchalian is working with stakeholders to look into the effects of rising inflation, with the aim of identifying immediate government actions. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

The Senate Committee on Economic Affairs, led by Senator Win Gatchalian, will convene on Monday the top economic managers of the government and members of the academe to look into the effects of rising inflation, with the aim of identifying immediate government actions that can be taken to mitigate the effects of rising prices on the wallets of Filipino consumers.


The hearing was set into motion by Senate Resolution No. 642, also filed by Gatchalian, which called on the Senate to look into the macroeconomic fundamentals of the country, particularly focusing on means to contain the rising inflation.


“The biggest component of the inflation we are experiencing now involves food prices. This is a cause for concern because studies show that higher inflation, especially if driven by rising food prices, is related to higher hunger incidence among the poor and working-class sectors. We need to identify and implement a strong plan-of-action to get this inflation under control and make sure our countrymen have enough food to put on the table for their families,” said Gatchalian, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs.


Records from both the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reveal a 3.95% inflation figure for January 2018, the highest January inflation rate since 2014 at 4.24%. Food and non-alcoholic beverages registered second among basic goods and commodities, having the biggest inflationary increase for the year at 4.47%.


The public hearing shall also include a discussion on the potential causes of inflation, such as rising oil prices, heightened consumer demand, and a weakening peso.


Aside from this, Gatchalian will ask for updates on the effects of the recently rolled out TRAIN Act on the purchasing power of consumers, as well as any  changes in consumer behavior that have already been observed. Similarly, he will probe the exact operational status of the expanded cash transfer program that the administration has promised to implement for the benefit of 10 million families, in order to shield them from the inflationary effects of TRAIN.


“Essentially, the aim of this hearing is to get a clear snapshot of the state of the Philippine economy at this moment, with special focus on gauging the effects of this administration’s economic reforms on Filipino consumers. This snapshot will be critical to the crafting of responsive strategies to keep the rising prices of goods and services under control,” the senator said.