The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Department of Agriculture (DA), and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) presented their respective programs, policies, and projects to mitigate the impact of inflation in the region during the conduct of the January 2023 Western Visayas Inflation Report and Forum organized by the Regional Statistics Committee VI (RSC-VI) on February 14, 2023, at the RDC Hall of the NEDA Regional Office VI in Iloilo City.

The forum highlighted the latest price statistics released by the Philippine Statistics Authority where Western Visayas posted a slightly lower inflation rate of 10.3% in January 2023 compared to 10.5% in December 2022.

In his opening message, NEDA VI OIC-Regional Director and RSC-VI Chairperson, Engr. Arecio A. Casing, Jr., emphasized that curbing the country’s inflation remains a top priority of government. In OIC-RD Casing’s words, “It is government’s goal to protect purchasing power by arresting the rising prices of commodities and mitigating socioeconomic scarring by ensuring food security, reducing transport and logistics costs, and reducing energy costs for every Filipino family,”

Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) VI OIC-Regional Director Nelida C. Amolar, presented and discussed the components of the Consumer Price Index (CPI). She pointed out that CPI is a widely-used measure of inflation and determines the purchasing power of the peso. Further, policymakers and businesses closely monitor the CPI to guide them in making economic-related decisions.

Dr. Gregorio E. Baccay III, Regional Economic Affairs Staff of the BSP, shared the institution’s monetary policies to bring inflation to a target-consistent path while ensuring price stability of goods and services over the medium term. He said that future monetary policy actions of the BSP will continue to be data-dependent and guided by evolving domestic developments particularly its latest outlook on inflation and economic growth.

DA Chief of the Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division, Ms. Maria Teresa Solis, discussed their programs and projects to accelerate agricultural development and sector transformation. Ms. Solis explained that, in order to confront issues on inadequate farm inputs support and sustainable livelihood, DA will focus on boosting local production of key commodities and raising the farmers’ and fisherfolks’ income by lowering production costs in the next six years. She added that DA will also intensify the clustering and consolidation of fisherfolks’ into small and medium groups to take advantage of economies of scale.

OIC-Assistant Regional Director Feliza Judith Degala presented DTI’s initiatives to mitigate the effects of increasing prices. She explained that DTI has the authority to set the price ceilings for Basic Necessities and Prime Commodities (BNPC) and convened the National Price Coordinating Council (NPCC) and Local Price Coordinating Council (LPCC) to assist in policy development, in managing unreasonable and excessive price increases of necessities and prime commodities. DTI also launched Diskwento Caravan (DC) and partnered with manufacturers and distributors of BNPCs in making reasonably-priced quality products accessible to consumers.

Reactors to the presentation from the labor and business groups were Engr. Terence S. Uygongco of the Iloilo Economic Development Foundation, Inc., Ms. Ma. Victoria G. Bellosillo of the Central Philippine University Rank and File Labor Union-Federation of Free Workers, and Mr. Emil Diez of the Iloilo Business Club.

In his closing message, Dr. Alexander J. Balsomo, Chairperson of the Philippine Statistical Association, Inc. (Region 6 Chapter), noted that the increasing prices of basic goods and services initially affected low-income families but the impact of the consistent upward trend of inflation, can already be felt by many Filipinos based on their responses on self-rated surveys. He ended the forum with a positive outlook that government interventions, through programs, policies, and subsidies, will be able to minimize inflationary pressures on the overall economy. (RADemonteverde/DRD)