Inflation to be within target by 2nd quarter 2019

MANILA — Inflation in the country is expected to settle back into the government’s target band of 2 percent to 4 percent beginning in the second quarter of the year, Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Benjamin Diokno said.

“In fact, there are scenarios where we’ll see inflation at around 2 percent, maybe second or third quarter,” Diokno said in a press briefing Wednesday.

He mentioned that despite the easing of price pressures in the latter part of 2018, inflation in the first quarter of 2019 will not fall within the government’s target range.

“We’re coming from a high inflation,” said Diokno, citing the 5.1-percent inflation in December 2018 while averaging at 5.2 percent last year.

Price pressure further slowed its pace to 4.4 percent in the previous month.

Optimism that price pressure will wane in the next quarters are, for most part anchored on the expected enactment into law of the rice tariffication bill. When this become a law, prices of commercial rice are seen to go down by up to PHP7 per kilogram.

Diokno also stressed that strengthening the agriculture sector will help further ease price pressures on the domestic market while contributing more to the economy.

“It’s for these reasons that the Duterte administration is prioritizing the agriculture sector,” he said.

“For our farmers and fisherfolk in the rural areas, higher productivity will mean higher incomes. At the same time, for consumers, this means lower prices of staple food items like rice, vegetables, fish, and meat,” he added. (PNA)