WHILE the economy is going from bad to worse, the attention of national media and the government is on the conflict between Senator Antonio Trillanes and President Rodrigo Duterte. We wonder why there is this entertainment while the nation suffers. Should not the President leave the judicial processes to take its course and let Trillanes rise or fall on this issue?
The country needs now the total focus of the President on the problems besetting the economy. But, who’s minding the store? Are all the ruckus really diversions, as one Catholic bishop observed as many do?
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The President’s latest satisfaction rating is high, although it fell a bit, but still satisfactory. He must exercise even his police powers to get prices down or his economic advisers and functionaries to get things done. For every day that he waits, the situation grows more difficult. He may have to use draconian measures but act he must.
Most of the masses look up to Duterte because he talks their language thus there is a perception that he would act more firmly about food as he does with illegal drugs. For every day that he lingers, the national patience is wearing thin. The perceived destabilizers, plotters and assassins are too puny for the President to be concerned about, but the rising prices, the real enemy, are hitting everybody hard.
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What has US President Donald Trump got to do with the Philippine ballooning inflation? He must have been interfering here because President Duterte declared that Trump is the cause of the country’s high inflation rate due to Trump’s trade war with China. Should not the President explain how? We are at a loss how the trade problems of China affect our economy. Or have we already become a province of China? That is, of course China’s objective but have we already surrendered?
The trade war with China is America’s way of reducing its deficit balance of trade with that giant. But the goods subjected to high tariffs are not ours so how come our economic malaise is affected? Is this presidential opinion given by his economic advisers, the real culprits in this tight situation? Does this not show they have no solution to the economic deterioration?
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Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque should explain how the high cost of the dollar against the peso is nothing to worry about. If this is good then why not just devalue the peso?
Higher dollar rate is good for exporters and dollar earners but bad of importers and we are a nation with more imports than exports. We import oil thus we pay more for it, in fact one reason the price of fuel is high. We even import milk and we now pay higher for the same volume. Nothing to worry about?
Our national debt is denominated in dollars but we earn pesos; do we pay the dollar debt with peso?
This means more tax money for other national needs have to be diverted to pay for our loans. Is that nothing to worry about? Perhaps not to “No Worry” Roque because he is paid well, but what of the rest that have to worry each day?
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Government explains that one cause of inflation is high demand. True. The higher the demand, the higher the price but if there were enough supply then prices will remain steady. Take the case of rice.
The government knows the daily demand for rice but when the supply started to go down, prices went up.
It’s not the demand but lack of supply that triggered the spike in rice prices. The absence of low priced NFA rice shifted the NFA consumers to commercial rice and created a bigger demand. The usual commercial rice supply dropped with the increase of new buyers.
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The government admits the role that agriculture plays in the inflation but this sector is the most neglected. The thinking of our economic advisers since the time of President Ferdinand Marcos is industrialization. In fact, one of the justifications for agrarian reform is to force land owners to let go of their land and invest that money in industries using the Japan post World War II phenomenon as model. Good idea, wrong people, wrong method.