BIT OF HOPE

La­bor re­mains ap­pre­hen­sive de­spite WV in­fla­tion de­clines to 4.1 per­cent

Sun Star Bacolod - - Front Page - BY ER­WIN P. NICAVERA

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.*

NOCPPO

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.

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