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Gov’t focused on helping ‘poor, vulnerable’ amid rising inflation

February 21, 2023 People's Tonight 202 views

THE Marcos administration is putting a premium on individuals belonging to the poor and vulnerable sectors who are bearing the brunt of increasing prices of basic commodities, one of the country’s economic managers said Tuesday.

In a Palace press briefing, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said the government is doing its best to help the indigent Filipinos badly affected by the soaring inflation.

“For those naman na talagang affected adversely, lalo na ‘yung mga very poor at vulnerable groups, ‘yun talaga ang pagbuhusan natin ng assistance (For those who are really affected adversely, especially the very poor and vulnerable groups, they will get the needed assistance from us),” Balisacan said.

He issued the statement, when quizzed if the executive department is considering adopting the move of the Senate to provide one-time PHP50,000 inflation assistance to its 3,000 rank-and-file employees.

On Monday, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri announced that the Senate would raise the one-time inflationary allowance to PHP50,000 from PHP12,000 to shield its staff from the rising cost of essential commodities.

Being an “independent body,” Congress can decide “on their own spending,” Balisacan said.

Balisacan said granting one-time inflationary assistance to employees of the executive branch is “not feasible.”

“As you know, our fiscal space is very, very limited,” he said.

“Doon sa mga vulnerable talaga tayo naka-focus ngayon kaya dinadalian namin ‘yung mga issues constraining ‘yung digitalization natin kasi ‘yun ang makakatulong sa pag-ensure na ‘yung limited assistance natin ay makakarating talaga sa mga dapat matulungan (We are prioritizing the vulnerable sectors. That’s why we are addressing the issues constraining digitalization efforts to ensure the delivery of limited assistance to those in need),” Balisacan added.

Balisacan, nevertheless, noted that the Marcos administration is considering another round of annual salary increases for government employees.

However, talks about the planned salary hike are “still premature,” he said.

He said the government is also optimistic that inflation will ease “in the coming months.”

“Tayo ay naapektuhan differently doon sa inflation (We are affected differently by inflation). On one hand, we’re trying to work out na ‘yung inflation na iyan ay bababa in the coming months,” Balisacan said. “We’re hoping that we see a plateau already of that inflation.”

The country’s headline inflation rate in January 2023 ticked up to 8.7 percent from 8.1 percent in December 2022, according to the recent Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) report.

Based on the PSA report, the January 2023 inflation was mainly driven by increases in housing rentals, electricity and water rates, as well as in the prices of vegetables, milk, eggs, fruits and nuts.

On Feb. 7, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. hoped that the drop in the prices of fuel and imported agricultural products would help tame inflation.

Balisacan earlier said the government has identified measures to keep food price movements, consistent with the government’s inflation and food security objectives, with higher agricultural productivity, food supply augmentation and energy security seen as priorities to temper upward price pressures. Philippine News Agency