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impact of economic growth— which reached 7.6 percent in 2022— would be more inclusive and more felt by the people. Economic and labor indicators show that the Philippine­s achieved a robust recovery from the pandemic, following the reopening of the economy. The high level of inflation, however, threatens to defeat these gains.

Ac k n o wledgi n g t h e challenge, the administra­tion of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. aims to bring down inflation, with a focus on monitoring food stocks and recalibrat­ing strategies to alleviate the impact of high commodity prices. These include timely importatio­n of commoditie­s that the country could not sufficient­ly produce in a given period.

The proposal of t he National Economic and Developmen­t Authority to convene a high- level interagenc­y committee to advise the President on measures to keep food prices stable is also a step in the right direction.

For many years, we have produced and i mported commoditie­s based on historical market demand, without considerin­g the fact that the Philippine population exceeded 110 million as early as 2021.

Suddenly, we are running short of many commoditie­s like rice, onion and sugar— which we used to produce abundantly.

Food inflation remained high at 11.1 percent i n February. Excessive food prices hurt the poor the most because they spend more than half of their income to feed their families. It is therefore in the best interest of the country to ensure food security to ease the burden on the vulnerable sectors of society.

Checking the root causes of high food prices will ease the plight of the poor and ensure economic stability in the years ahead.

Fighting inflation is not an exclusive jurisdicti­on of the national government. The Department of Trade and Industry encourages local government units and their price coordinati­ng councils to assist in price and supply monitoring and stabilizat­ion. I also believe that a wholeof- government approach is necessary in managing inflation and pursuing food security.

In this connection, the Neda and the Department of Finance approved the creation of the Interagenc­y Committee on Inflation and Market Outlook to serve as an advisory body to the President. The committee is tasked to lead the close monitoring of inflation, assess the supply-demand situation for energy and essential food commoditie­s, provide forward estimates on various scenarios and submit timely recommenda­tions to the President. This hopefully will avert excessive fluctuatio­ns in supply and prices before they play out in the market.

To have reliable insights, we should also watch global and regional developmen­ts that could affect commodity prices. As a part of the global market, the Philippine­s should work with other countries to bring in the commoditie­s that it lacks and take advantage of export opportunit­ies for local farmers and producers.

The quest for steady consumer prices requires good insights as well as the cooperatio­n of everyone in the supply chain—from farmers and producers to traders and consumers— all working to balance supply and demand at all times.

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