A proposed executive order (EO) removing “administrative and non-tariff barriers” on imports of select food items to address rising inflation is now awaiting President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature.
The EO, which will apply to fish, rice, sugar, meat and vegetable imports and is expected to take effect this month, was submitted by the Economic Development Cluster (EDC) during a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said in a statement.
Price increases for these items, the NEDA said, were major contributors to inflation in the past two months. August’s 6.4 percent, well above the government’s 2.0-4.0 percent target for 2018, was a new nine-year high.
Fish and seafood, rice and meat and vegetables accounted for 2.4 percentage points out of the 6.4 percent, the NEDA said.
“The proposed EO will jump off from the measures and reforms identified by the EDC to tame food inflation,” the agency added.
“Immediate to short-term measures include making rice available in the market through immediate release of stocks from NFA warehouses, importation, and distribution of projected harvest; monitoring of rice transfer from ports to warehouses and retail outlets; and the speedy passage of the Rice Tariffication Bill,” it added.
”Medium to long-term measures include boosting agricultural production by promoting the use of and developing resilient and high-yielding varieties of crops while reassessing the country’s planting season and crop viability in each region.”
The Fisheries Code will be reviewed for possible amendments and other policies governing the sector and tariff laws for sugar, fish meat and vegetables will also be considered.
“The issuance of the executive order as well as quick implementation of immediate and short-term measures will address the supply issues that have been driving up inflation,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said.
FROM A REPORT BY ED VELASCO