Pimentel to economic team: Focus on inflation, not on Maharlika creation
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III on Wednesday called on the administration's economic managers to focus on addressing the rising inflation than the creation of the Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF).
Pimentel issued the statement a day after the Philippine Statistics Authority reported that inflation in the country peaked at 8.7% in January 2023, the highest since November 2008.
"Instead of focusing on the Maharlika Investment Fund, all hands should be on deck to address the serious problem of inflation. Unfortunately, I have not seen any concrete plan or a roadmap to address the problem," Pimentel said.
"There are so many pressing issues that need more of our attention and efforts, we should be prioritizing these especially matters that concern the ordinary and marginalized Filipinos."
The lawmaker said the economic managers should have noticed the "first symptoms" of the inflation, referring to the sugar controversy in the second half of 2022 and the onion crisis in the last months of the same year.
"These should have behooved our economic managers including the agriculture sector to look closely at agricultural production and food supply augmentation," he said.
“We have known for a long time that there is a gap between our farmers and the market, and the middlemen that usually connect the two earn so much, leaving our farmers shortchanged, but what exactly are the concrete steps we are doing to change this,” Pimentel said.
Had the government put measures in place to monitor and strengthen agricultural production, Pimentel said food inflation will not be as high as 11.2%.
He also lamented that the poorest of the poor are the ones who suffer the hardest from inflation but the government "seems to just watch prices fluctuate."
As the cost of goods continues to rise, Pimentel said that the purchasing power of minimum wage earners gets weaker.
On Tuesday, Senate Deputy Minority Leader Risa Hontiveros urged President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and his economic managers to "take the bull by the horns," as the current measures to reduce inflation seem to be not working.
Marcos, meanwhile, said inflation rate is expected to go down by the second quarter of 2023 after the expected lowering of prices of fuel and agricultural products. —Hana Bordey/KBK, GMA Integrated News