Elevated inflation, which has affected consumer demand over the past few months, is still the top concern of Filipinos, according to a recent Ulat ng Bayan Survey for the month of September conducted by Pulse Asia.
The survey found that 74 percent, or almost three-fourths of the country’s adult population, considered inflation — the rate of increase in the prices of goods and services — as the top concern that must be addressed.
Across all income classes, elevated inflation is also the top concern at 67 percent in Class ABC, 75 percent in Class D, and 75 percent in Class E.
“Inflation is the most urgent national concern identified by our people, this is the issue where the national administration obtained its lowest performance rating,” said Dr. Ana Maria Tabunda, Pulse Asia research director.
Pork producers probe excessive ‘liempo’ prices
The Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines is investigating reports of excessive price increases of pork in local markets.
The price of liempo (pork belly) has reached over P400 per kilo in some markets, the group noted, even as farmgate prices have remained steady.
Nic Briones, the group’s president, said they sold pigs at an average farmgate price of P170 per kilo, and normally retailers add just P120 per kilo. They suspect someone taking advantage of the current high prices of other goods especially with pork being in greater demand for the holiday season, he added.
Next to inflation, Filipinos expressed the need to raise the wages of workers (at 49 percent) for them to cope with the rising prices of goods and services.
It was followed by job creation (27 percent), poverty alleviation (25 percent), and eradicating graft and corruption in the government (22 percent).
Also mentioned were fighting criminality (18 percent), addressing the issue of involuntary hunger (14 percent), and giving assistance to farmers (13 percent).
Inflation peaked at 8.7 percent in January 2023 but eased in the succeeding months.
However, the latest data showed that inflation in August 2023 accelerated to a two-month high of 5.3 percent from 4.7 percent a month ago, bringing the average in the first eight months to 6.6 percent, well over the target range of 2 to 4 percent.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) earlier said that inflation in September 2023 likely accelerated to as high as 6.1 percent from 5.3 percent a month ago due to higher fuel and power costs.
BSP’s baseline projections showed a slightly higher inflation path. Nonetheless, inflation is still projected to revert to the 2 to 4 percent target range by the fourth quarter of 2023 in the absence of further supply-side shocks.
BSP has raised the policy rates by a total of 425 basis points to 6.25 percent from May 2022 until March 2023 to rein in inflation, before taking what it called a “prudent pause” during the last four meetings.
Rice, which accounts for around 9 percent of the consumer basket, was one of the triggers of the two-month high 5.3 percent inflation in August 2023 from 4.7 percent a month ago, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.
The hottest issues that coincided with the conduct of the Pulse Asia survey were the controversial confidential funds by the Office of the President and Office of the Vice President, the rising tension in the West Philippine Sea, and the implementation of the price ceiling on rice.