El Niño to have minimal effects on inflation – NEDA

Anna Gabriela A. Mogato
Socioeconomic Planning Assistant Secretary Mercedita Sombilla says planting and harvesting may be delayed, but there would be no major impact on rice production

MINIMAL EFFECTS. Despite agricultural damage caused by El Niño hitting more than P1 billion, the National Economic and Development Authority says this won't bump up the inflation rate for March 2019. Photo by Inoue Jaena/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is optimistic that El Niño will barely affect the inflation rate, which had finally settled within target last February.

Socioeconomic Planning Assistant Secretary Mercedita Sombilla said on Monday, March 25, that while El Niño has damaged some rice fields, it would not have a major impact on the country’s rice production. Should there be any effect, Sombilla said it would only delay planting and harvesting.

She added that they expect El Niño to taper off by June. (READ: PAGASA declares start of dry season)

“El Niño will peak during March and April. So we see that this impact on the rice production is very minimal. So hopefully, hopefully [it stays that way],” she said in a mix of Filipino and English, on the sidelines of a forum on Monday.

“We’re very vigilant when it comes to prices. If it goes up…we will ask the traders to import, but for now we don’t see any movement in rice prices. The rice prices are very stable right now.” (READ: Price of palay down as gov’t projects lower Q1 yield)

Aside from this, Sombilla noted that corn, particularly yellow corn, has not sustained extensive damage from El Niño.

“Most of the producers of yellow corn are in Mindanao, but they’re not that much affected,” she said.

The passage of Republic Act No. 11203 or the rice tariffication law is seen to ensure that there will not be a shortage of the country’s staple crop. (READ: Stakeholders’ inputs included in amended rice tariffication law IRR)

Both Sombilla and Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said in Monday’s forum that the rice tariffication law would help tame inflation further, provided that global prices for crude oil also do not go up.

As of March 19, the Department of Agriculture’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Operations Center reported that agricultural damage has reached P1.33 billion, affecting rice and corn.

So far, around 41,003 metric tons (MT) of rice and 37,344 MT of corn have been affected.

Northern Mindanao is the hardest-hit region. – Rappler.com