Arroyo meets with economic managers on inflation

Mara Cepeda
Arroyo meets with economic managers on inflation
'This is a professor-to-professor discussion on the economy, especially to address the inflation,' says Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo at the start of the meeting

MANILA, Philippines – Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo met with President Rodrigo Duterte’s economic managers on Tuesday, July 31, to help address soaring inflation.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said they discussed that rice tariffication would help curb rising prices.

“We discussed proper coordination between [the] legislative and executive [branches]. Priorities are rice tariffication and TRAIN (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion) 2,” Pernia told reporters after the meeting.

During the House of Representatives session on Tuesday, ANAC-IP Representative Jose Panganiban sponsored House Bill No. 7735 on second reading. The bill, which counts Arroyo among its authors, seeks to replace the quantitative import restrictions on rice with tariffs as well as create the rice competitiveness enhancement fund.

Before the meeting, Arroyo said she primarily wanted to get a briefing on the proposed P3.757-trillion budget for 2019. But Arroyo, former president and economist, said she also wanted to discuss how to address inflation under the Duterte administration.

“While they will give me a briefing on the budget… I plan to segue to discussing inflation. [They already identified the] causes of inflation…. Then we have to address these one by one,” said Arroyo in a chance interview. (READ: Who’s to blame for soaring inflation? ‘All of them’ in gov’t, says economist)

Aside from Pernia, the Pampanga 2nd District representative met with Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.

“This is a professor-to-professor discussion on the economy, especially to address the inflation,” Arroyo reportedly said at the start of the meeting.

Arroyo taught economics at the Ateneo de Manila University and also at Assumption College, her alma mater, before she joined government. (READ: Arroyo prioritizes passage of fiscal incentives reform)

Also in the meeting were lawmakers allied with Arroyo: House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya, Bohol 3rd District Representative Arthur Yap, Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda, and Davao City 1st District Representative Karlo Nograles.

Yap is chairperson of the House committee on economic affairs while Nograles is appropriations panel chairperson.

Arroyo said she wanted the meeting to be “free-wheeling,” so it was closed to the media. But journalists were allowed to take photos before the meeting started.

Inflation has continued to soar this year, hitting a fresh high of 5.2% in June. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas projected it could reach as high as 5.8% in July. (READ: [OPINION] Why inflation is actually at a 9-year high– with a report from Ralf Rivas/Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.