Press Releases

Statement on November 2023 inflation

December 5th, 2023

Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda

The November inflation report suggests that the year will end with a 6.0 percent annual inflation rate, as I expect the December rate to be at 3.7 to 4.0 percent, barring any shocks to supply.

The good news is that almost all major food commodities have returned to single-digit inflation levels, except rice, whose year-on-year level stands at 15.2 percent.

That means we can zero-in our efforts on this commodity, which accounts for as much as one-fifth of the budget of the poorest households.

The global outlook remains dim in that commodity, with most projections suggesting that global prices will remain elevated by mid-2024 at the earliest.

Our interventions must be three-fold.

First, we must ensure that the Philippines has market access to imported rice. Vietnam and India are the key countries in this regard, but diversification will also be crucial. Our market access will depend almost entirely on the diplomatic abilities of the Marcos administration.

Second, we must ensure that the domestic market’s access to landed rice is stable and not artificially constrained. Import licenses should be used and hoarding must be prevented.

Third, and most importantly, we must optimize domestic supply by achieving another bumper crop this year, and reducing wastage. PhilRice for the seeds and PhilMech for reducing wastage will be critical. All hands must be on deck to prevent procurement or delivery problems among these agencies.

Our interventions under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund should, as much as possible, be frontloaded in 2024. The usual causes of delay of delivery of support services should also be resolved in a whole-of-government approach. I think an Executive Order on achieving as close to rice self-sufficiency as possible will be good. It should deal with expeditious RCEF delivery, the National Rice Program, the fuel subsidy program for farmers, and other input support programs – as well as measures to minimize wastage and encourage some dietary changes to cheaper starches.

The takeaway from the November report is this: Much of the overall price situation has already been managed. Now, it’s all about rice.

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