finance secretary ralph recto

ENCOURAGED by the further drop in the Philippines’ headline inflation to 2.8 percent in January 2024, Finance Secretary Ralph G. Recto pushed for a more deliberate implementation of the Reduce Emerging Inflation Now (REIN) plan to keep the prices of goods and services stable. 

“This positive development is very encouraging. As I’ve said before, our top priority is to reduce inflation and protect the purchasing power of the Filipino people. Addressing inflation will not only further grow the economy but it will help boost our revenue collection and improve the quality of life of Filipinos,” the Finance Chief said.

The inflation rate in January is significantly slower than the 8.7 percent recorded in the same month last year and the 3.9 percent in December. It is also well within the government’s overall target band of 2 percent to 4 percent.

To further arrest inflation, the Department of Finance (DOF) will oversee the vigorous implementation of strategies under its REIN plan. 

These initiatives involve closely monitoring financial assistance programs or ayuda aimed at supporting vulnerable sectors. 

The focus lies on enhancing the efficiency of beneficiary identification, optimizing the distribution of financial aid, addressing areas for improvement and resolving issues, ensuring accurate determination and budgeting of assistance, and collaborating with relevant agencies responsible for the effective execution of these programs.

The DOF will, at the outset, also prioritize the expeditious execution of the 2024 national budget to enable the timely implementation of measures boosting agricultural production, especially during the peak of the El Niño, forecasted in March.

This includes fast-tracking the El Niño Mitigation and Adaptation Plan, which involves the rehabilitation of irrigation systems, targeted cloud seeding operations, promotion of water-saving technology, and intensified price and supply monitoring of basic commodities and agricultural productions.

The DOF, together with the Department of Agriculture (DA), is also working to fast-track the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC)’s indemnification program due to drought and pests. 

The government will ensure timely and sufficient imports of key commodities based on more frequent analysis of demand and supply conditions while combating anti-competitive practices.

To help keep the prices of rice stable, the President issued Executive Order (EO) No. 50 extending the modified rates for rice imports and other goods until the end of the year.

The Philippines earlier secured the largest share of its rice importation agreement with India—295,000 metric tons (MT) out of the 1.03 million MT total rice exports to be distributed among seven countries—to augment its rice supply.

With the recent signing of a 5-year Rice Trade Cooperation deal with Vietnam, the country expects to access 1.5 million to 2 million MT of rice annually at a competitive and affordable price.

The possible expansion of the Unilateral Minimum Access Volume (MAV) of select commodities is also being facilitated by the Inter-agency Committee on Inflation and Market Outlook (IAC-IMO) to streamline importation guidelines and issuances among agencies.

To help mitigate oil inflation over the medium term, the government will issue guidelines for the voluntary increase of ethanol blend for gasoline, which could help cut gasoline cost. 

Fuel subsidies will also be released to drivers and operators in a timely manner.

To help address the second-round effects of toll rate hikes on food inflation, the government will release guidelines to enforce the toll-hike exemption for trucks catering to agricultural goods.

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