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Monday, July 15, 2024

Marcos nixes special power to hold prices

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President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said Wednesday he does not need special powers to deal with rising inflation, noting that several measures are already in place to manage the prices of basic commodities.

Marcos made the remark a day after the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported that the country’s headline inflation could surpass 9 percent in February because of high prices of cooking gas and key food items.

“I do not think that it is necessary to ask for special powers,” he said in a chance interview on the sidelines of an event at the Rizal Park, when asked if he is considering asking Congress to grant him special powers to curb inflation.

“I already have the power to declare an emergency and to control the prices of commodities. So, I don’t think there’s any need for more than that,” he said.

On Tuesday, the BSP said the inflation rate in February may fall within the range of 8.5 to 9.3 percent, citing the upside risks from higher prices of cooking gas and food items such as pork, fish, egg, and sugar.

Despite the BSP’s latest forecast, Marcos remained bullish that consumer prices would go down, saying his administration is exhausting all efforts to boost the supply of agricultural products.

Several lawmakers, including House Speaker Martin Romualdez, have expressed openness to granting Marcos special powers to curtail inflation, which is at a 14-year high.

In January, inflation accelerated further to 8.7 percent from 8.1 percent posted in December 2022.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan earlier said the Marcos administration is focused on helping the poor and vulnerable who are bearing the brunt of increasing prices of basic commodities.

The BSP said it would continue to raise interest rates to keep inflation in check, and said it would continue to closely monitor price developments.

Over the weekend, BSP Governor Felipe Medalla said they were ready to act accordingly if inflation in February remained higher compared to a month ago.

In an interview at the sidelines of the 2023 annual reception for the banking community Friday night, Medalla said there would be no reason to raise the policy rate if inflation slowed down in February.

But he added: “We are still hawkish. If the February inflation is bad, we will act… but we are hawkish for a reason. It is the data.”

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