BIT OF HOPE
Labor remains apprehensive despite WV inflation declines to 4.1 percent
LABOR sector in Negros Occidental remains apprehensive despite the 1.6 percent decline in the inflation rate of Western Visayas in January this year.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that from 5.7 percent in December 2018, the region’s inflation in all commodity groups dropped to 4.1 percent last month.
The figure is lower than the country’s headline inflation of 4.4 percent and 4.6 percent of the National Capital Region (NCR).
Western Visayas ranked 10th from among the 15 regions, or areas outside NCR with an average inflation rate of 4.4 percent.
Wennie Sancho, secretary-general of General Alliance of Workers Associations (Gawa), yesterday told Sunstar Bacolod that the inflation rate drop is a positive indication that prices of basic goods and services have lowered down.
Sancho, also the labor representative to the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB) in Western Visayas, said this might be coupled by the recent rollback in the prices of petroleum products.
“There is a bit of hope that the economy will improve if the inflation trend continues to go down,” he added.
Inflation is the annual rate of change or the yearon-year change in the consumer price index (CPI).
Though it is lower than December, the PSA reported that Philippine inflation is still faster than 3.4 percent in January last year.
The latest rate of the rise in prices of goods was mainly driven by the slowdown in the annual increase in the cost of food and non-alcoholic beverages, easing to 5.6 percent from December 2018’s 6.7 percent.
The PSA also attributed the fall in inflation to slower price increases in alcoholic beverages and tobacco - 16.1 percent; clothing and footwear - 2.5 percent; housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels - four percent; health - 4.3 percent; and transport - 2.5 percent.
In September to October 2018, the country’s
inflation came in at a nineyear high of 6.7 percent.
For Western Visayas alone, prices of food and nonalcoholic beverages dropped to 5.9 percent from the previous 8.3 percent.
For alcoholic beverages and tobacco, it lowered to 17.5 percent from 26.6 percent; clothing and footwear 0.9 percent from 1.1 percent; housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels - 2.3 percent from 2.7 percent; furnishing, household equipment and routine maintenance of the house - 2.4 percent from 2.3 percent; and health - 1.3 percent from 1.4 percent.
Amid the decline, the labor sector said it is not the time for the workers to rejoice because there are still other factors to consider.
Sancho said inflation rate measures a lot of factors not only in food and fuel. There is a need to look out whatever economic developments that may come in the future.
Sancho said they hope that the proposed plan of the government to liberalize sugar importation will not push through.
“The sugar import liberalization will negate the declining trend on inflation,” he said, stressing that the possible drop in prices of sugar is seen to affect the livelihood of those dependent on the commodity.
The labor sector earlier claimed that there are about 700,000 sugar industry workers in the region mostly from Negros Occidental who will “suffer” if such proposal will not be scrapped.
The purchasing power of sugar workers will also weaken because the basic necessity for their economic subsistence is also being lowered, Sancho said.
“There could be a brighter light if the inflation continues to drop without sugar import liberalization,” he added.
In a related development, the Duterte government remains “focused” on ensuring that the pace of increase in consumer prices will further slow down.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, in a statement, said the executive was “pleased” with the declining trend of the inflation rate.
“The Palace is pleased with the good news that for the third straight month, inflation continues to drop,” he said.
Panelo added, “we will remain on guard in monitoring the prices of basic goods and commodities as we aim to mitigate poverty and hunger, driven by the President’s economic goal to lay down and build the foundation to a comfortable life for the present and future generations.”
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), meanwhile, said the latest inflation outturn is in line with a target-consistent inflation path.
The inflation rate is projected to decelerate further in 2019 to 2020.
The agency said domestic supply-side pressures are seen to further ease, while the impact of BSP monetary policy adjustments last year is expected to continue to work their way through the economy.
Meanwhile, volatility in the global oil market will likely continue to influence the outlook for inflation.
“Against this backdrop, the BSP continues to keep a close watch over price developments in the country and shall consider all relevant information at its next monetary policy meeting on February 7,” it said.
This is to ensure that the monetary policy stance remains consistent with the BSP’S primary mandate of price stability, it added.*
MEETING. Negros Occidental election supervisor Salud Milagros Villanueva convenes with Colonel Benedict Arevalo, commander of the Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade, and Senior Superintendent Romeo Baleros, officer-in-charge of Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office, as part of the preparation for the 2019 elections.