Salceda: Executive orders needed to control food, fuel prices

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. must issue a series of executive orders putting in place critical interventions to stop prices of consumer commodities from skyrocketing, economist-lawmaker Joey Salceda said Thursday.

“The problem is primarily in food and feeds, especially corn, and [also] fuel. These are the most essential components of the basket of goods. And they are vulnerable, to some extent, to global price volatility due to imports,” Salceda, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, said.

He said he has sent Marcos an unsolicited memorandum titled “Food, Feed and Fuel: Analysis and Recommendations on the September 2022 Inflation Rate” which hit 6.9 percent, the fastest increase since October 2018.

Among Salceda’s recommendations to the President were to order the inventory and release of all available financial and material resources for agriculture. He also sought the revival of vermiculture for animal feeds, something that was done during the administration of President Marcos Jr.’s late father.

Likewise, the lawmaker suggested lowering imported corn tariffs to 5 percent, and increasing the current 150,000 metric-ton import program for refined sugar under an auction system to reduce price differential and generate revenues for domestic sugar sector support.

He also proposed increasing domestic coal production, as well as relaxing the Department of Energy moratorium on the expansion of power plants employing domestic coal.

“Ceteris paribus (all other things being equal), we project that every one percent increase in USD/PHP (dollar/peso) exchange rate translates to between 0.1 to 0.4 percent increase in overall prices, depending on the overall import mix,” he said.

The solon said this can be offset by lower overall domestic prices — which could result in surpluses, lower costs of domestic food production, and an adequate supply of indigenous energy critical in food production.

Higher prices could lead to smuggling, Salceda warned, as he pointed out the need for better inter-island transport linkages.

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