RISA: Gov't should stop fed gov agenda, help 10 million poor families, drop VAT from 12% to 10%

As the country's inflation jumped to 5.7%, Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros called on the Duterte government to act decisively against it and put it on top of its priority instead of pushing for federalism.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Hontiveros said that the Duterte government must set its priorities straight.

"Instead of insisting on its credibility-challenged federalism, the Duterte government must focus its attention on finding ways to increase the citizens' purchasing power to help them dodge the impact of the sky-high inflation rate," Hontiveros said.

"President Duterte must read the writing on the wall. The climbing rates of inflation can deflate his public support and approval. Ang kailangan ng mamamayan ay hindi nakakasukang 'pepedederalismo' kundi ekonomiyang magpapagaan sa kanilang paghihirap mismo," Hontiveros added.

The opposition Senator proposed five policy prescriptions for the government to address the inflation spike. These are:

1. CASH TRANSFER TO ALL 10 M POOR FAMILIES. Ensure that the poorest 10 million Filipino families receive the government's unconditional cash transfer, regardless if a family is a beneficiary of the social pension scheme for senior citizens. Bigger families deserve to be compensated to a greater extent and it would be unjust if some of them were denied the unconditional cash transfers.
2. SHIFT IN RICE POLICY. Lowering the price of rice has to be the priority of policy through a shift from quantitative restrictions to moderate tariffs if necessary, but certainly with more timely imports even under the present regime. This must be done while providing protection to and ensuring the competitiveness of Filipino farmers.

3. SPEED UP INFRA BUILD-UP. There must be "speed, speed, speed" with the government's "build, build, build" program, even as we judiciously scrutinize the loans that were acquired for the said big-ticket infrastructure projects. It must also prioritize the hiring of Filipino workers. With trillions of pesos worth of infrastructure projects, they can create thousands of direct and indirect jobs. Special focus on infrastrucrure spending in irrigation can also quickly help address the high cost of domestically produced rice.

4. WAGE INCREASE. The state must help workers get a higher take-home pay to increase their purchasing power. With the unforseen rise in inflation, wages must be responsive to today's economic reality.

5. CUT THE VAT. The government should certify as urgent the passage of Senate Bill No. 1671 otherwise known as the “Bawas VAT” bill to provide relief for the lower economic deciles of the population affected by the TRAIN law by lowering the existing VAT rate to 10% from the current 12%.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), inflation jumped to 5.7% in July. The latest figure was higher than the 5.2% registered in June.

In the National Capital Region (NCR), inflation surged to 6.5% from the previous 5.8%. Areas outside NCR followed the trend and registered a 5.5% jump, higher than the 5.1% in June. #

SOURCE: HONTIVEROS TO GOV'T: PRIORITIZE ADDRESSING INFLATION NOT PEPEDEDERALISMO; https://www.facebook.com/notes/senate-of-the-philippines/hontiveros-to-govt-prioritize-addressing-inflation-not-pepedederalismo/1999620670062204/; SENATE OF THE PHILIPPINES; WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 8, 2018

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