Rice imports to stabilize food prices–Neda


The timely arrival of rice imports are expected to help keep food prices stable in the October-to-December period, according to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and Neda Director General Ernesto M. Pernia said the stable inflation prices in October is expected to continue. While domestic demand is anticipated to remain robust, Pernia added that supply conditions, particularly of food, are expected to improve.

“This should help keep commodity prices steady. Rice prices will be kept stable by the timely arrival of rice imports under the government-to-government procurement scheme,” Pernia said.

The steady rate was seen despite food inflation slightly increasing to 3.5 percent in October, from 3.1 percent in the previous month.

Pernia said Typhoons Lawin and Karen were partly to blame for this, as vegetable prices went up. The two typhoons battered Northern Luzon, where Metro Manila sources its highland vegetables.

The high vegetable prices caused the vegetable index to post a 12.6 percent growth in October.

“But inflation for January to October  averaged at 1.6 percent, well below the target range of 2 percent to 4 percent set by the government for this year. We expect inflation for full-year 2016 to settle below the target range but upside risks remain,” Pernia said.

Risks include the possible rally in oil prices, depreciation of the peso against the US dollar, pending petitions for electricity rate increase and tropical cyclones.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) reported a 65-percent chance of La Niña developing in the fourth quarter and last until February 2017.

“Given the larger possibility of more frequent and stronger rains, the agriculture sector needs to implement adaptation measures to protect the income of farmers and keep food price inflation at bay,” Pernia said.

“We aim to strengthen the agricultural sector though a comprehensive agricultural development program, a major component of the proposed Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022,” he added.

Nonfood inflation in October remained at 1.5 percent as mild price increases were registered in majority of nonfood indices, such as housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels; transport; communication; education; and restaurant and miscellaneous goods and services.

Core inflation, which excludes selected volatile food and energy prices, likewise, remained stable at 2.3 percent in October.


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