Solon urges gov’t to hasten BBB, tariffs on rice to combat inflation

MANILA Senator Risa Hontiveros on Friday offered several recommendations that the Duterte administration could undertake to help the public meet the challenges of a slowerthanexpected economic growth and high inflation.

Hontiveros said administration of President Rodrigo Duterte could speed up the implementation of big infrastructure projects under its flagship Build, Build, Build program.

The Duterte administration will spend PHP9 trillion on its massive infrastructure program which is expected to generate about 1.1 million new jobs every year.

There must be 'speed, speed, speed' in the government's Build, Build, Build program, even as we judiciously scrutinize the loans that were acquired for the said bigticket infrastructure projects, she said in a statement.

The senator added that the hiring of Filipino workers should also be a priority in the project implementation.

With trillions of pesos worth of infrastructure projects, they can create thousands of direct and indirect jobs, Hontiveros said.

The lawmaker also expressed support to government plans to impose tariffs on imported rice.

Echoing statements from the country's economic managers, Hotiveros said a shift in rice policy from quantitative restrictions to tariffs, along with timely importation to boost stock inventory, would help bring down the price of rice.

Government officials have pointed out that the high price of rice, brought about by a dwindling supply, has a major impact on inflation.

Rice takes up a large chunk of the food budget of poor families and the price of rice accounts for 25 percent to 35 percent of the consumption basket.

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, Hontiveros said.

This must be done while providing protection to and ensuring the competitiveness of Filipino farmers, she added.

She noted that the Build, Build, Build program should also give special focus on infrastructure spending in irrigation as a longterrm solution in addressing the high cost of domesticallyproduced rice.

Hontiveros also reiterated her call for the full implementation of the unconditional cash transfer (UCT) program as provided in the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.

The UCT program, one of the social protection measures under the TRAIN law, provides cash subsidies to poor families adversely affected by the law's implementation.

Government must 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 or not, Hontiveros said.

She also proposed that bigger families should be compensated to a greater extent.

Meanwhile, Hontiveros called for the government to halt further taxes on fuels mandated by the TRAIN LAW until inflation is brought under control; implement wage increases to increase the purchasing power of workers; and lower valueadded tax (VAT) from 12 percent to 10 percent. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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