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MANILA, Philippines – Apart from fuel subsidies, the Philippine government’s economic team is looking at improving supply of goods through tariff reductions and imports, as well as further opening up the economy to cool down inflation caused by Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said lowering tariff rates, expanding sources of imports, and removing non-tariff barriers for rice, corn, pork, fish, chicken, sugar, and wheat will lower prices.
For energy generation and lower electricity rates, the government’s economic development cluster proposed expanding the supply of coal and temporarily removing the commodity’s most favored nation tariff rate of 7% until December 2022.
Chua also said opening the entire country to Alert Level 1, the most relaxed COVID-19 quarantine measure, alongside opening schools for face-to-face learning, will increase the country’s productivity.
“This can increase the productivity of our domestic economy and offset the external risks. While we cannot prevent the risks coming from the global perspective, we can strengthen our domestic economy to provide the people with more jobs and opportunities,” Chua said.
The economic team earlier proposed doubling fuel subsidies to P6.1 billion, as skyrocketing oil prices put pressure on the country’s transportation and agriculture sectors.
The amount, however, is small compared to a House panel’s proposal of selective tax cuts and assistance that would cost the government a whopping P98 billion.
This is not the first time that President Rodrigo Duterte’s economic team took a conservative route in addressing economic issues.
At the start of the pandemic, lawmakers urged them to spend and borrow big to immediately shore up the economy and support the poor. But Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, on several occasions, likened recovery to a “marathon” and not a “race,” implying a prudent spending strategy. – Rappler.com