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El Niño unlikely to have huge impact on inflation —NEDA

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) brushed off the possible adverse impact of the El Niño phenomenon on consumer prices and the economy.

On the sidelines of the Saturday News Forum, NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon said that advances in science and technology have allowed the government to prepare and properly respond to the El Niño phenomenon in the past.

As the country is better prepared for El Niño, Edillon said, “Hindi kami nakakakita ng malaking negative impact nito sa inflation or sa economy (We do not see a huge negative impact on inflation or the economy).”

The NEDA official said the country regularly encounters El Niño, “three years in, three years out, nandyan lagi si El Nino (El Niño is always there).”

“Alam na ng mga kababayan natin kung paano sila maghahanda dito… Mga government agencies natin alam na rin kung paano ‘yung dapat na paghahanda,” she said.

(Our fellow countrymen already know how to prepare for this… Our government agencies also know what to do.)

“Isang maganda niyan ang aga pa lang binuo na ulit ang Task Force on El Niño,” she added.

(One good example is that the Task Force on El Niño was immediately convened.)

In May, the government reconstituted the task force that will respond to El Niño ahead of the on-set of the phenomenon.

This is led by the Department of the Interior and Local Government with the Departments of Agriculture, Science and Technology, Social Welfare, Defense, PAGSA, Health, Trade and Industry, among others as members.

For this year, Edillon said that the government does not see any worst-case scenario due to El Niño.

“Hindi talaga eh kasi wala pa talaga ‘yung El Niño as we know it,” she said.

(Not really because, El Niño, as we know, is not yet here.)

State weather bureau PAGASA has already declared the start of the El Niño phenomenon in the Tropical Pacific and its effects are now expected in the Philippines.

The El Niño phenomenon is characterized by the abnormal warming of sea surface temperature in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean and below normal rainfall.

The NEDA official, however, noted that the dry-spell will be felt next year.

While El Niño increases the likelihood of below-normal rainfall conditions, PAGASA earlier said above-normal rainfall conditions during the Southwest Monsoon season also known as Habagat season may also be expected over the western part of the country.

To take advantage of the upcoming rain, Edillon said the construction of small water impounding projects para should be fast-tracked. —VAL, GMA Integrated News