THANK God, the poor and the working-class Filipinos will not suffer much from high inflation this Christmas season.
The Bangko Sentral has said consumer prices will likely continue being benign until the end of the year and beyond. This is because oil prices have been flat and even going down, there is a large reserve of imported rice and the December harvest will boost the rice supply and the easing of congestion in the ports preventing imports from being trucked to consumer outlets.
Inflation hurts the poorest members of society the most. The rich, who of course also complain of increases in the prices of commodities, can always afford to buy what they need. The poorest who have very little money have to forgo medicines and basic food items when these become too expensive for them. The working class families whose incomes are from the fixed wages of their employed members can only buy their most basic needs and give up the extras that make their nutrition ordinarily healthy enough.
That is why it is really criminal for governments, like the one that we have, to neglect their duty to make the economic growth they crow so much about lift up the poor sectors of the population.
Another forecast the other day has made President Aquino and his officials look great. The First Metro Investments Corp. (FMIC) and the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) in their November issue of The Market Call forecast that the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) will be shown to have grown between 6.5 percent and 7 percent in the last six months of 2014.
“With inflation peaking at 4.9 percent in July and August as food prices have started to fall, and [with]crude oil prices falling to four-year lows and exports expanding at a double-digit pace so far in the second half, our outlook for a significantly better second half appears well grounded,” FMIC and UA&P said.
Very good, you’ll tell yourself, if you’re one of those technocrats in the Aquino administration who don’t care much about “inclusive growth” and value only what higher credit rating upgrades Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s give the Philippine economy.
But more Philippine-watchers have begun to nag President Aquino and his finance and economic officials because Philippine GDP growth does not have any substantial impact on poverty reduction. Government statistics show that there has been “some” poverty reduction of less than 2 percent. This is contradicted by the latest Social Weather Stations survey result that shows more families report having experienced hunger and consider themselves poor than in earlier surveys.
This is the result of Aquino regime policies that value GDP growth rates more than inclusive growth–which is why, as the FMIC-UA&P report also noted, public spending has been curtailed at a time when that should have created more jobs and therefore reduced poverty.
The Lipa Declaration, adopted by citizens and religious leaders on August 27, and echoed by the later Cebu and Butuan Declarations, indicted the Aquino regime for not paying attention to the poverty reduction aspect of its principal tasks.
“Unbridled and unpunished corruption and widespread misuse of political and economic power in all layers of society have not only destroyed our common conception of right and wrong, good and bad, just and unjust, legal and illegal, but also put our people, especially the poor, at the mercy of those who have the power to dictate the course and conduct of our development for their own selfish ends,” it said.
We agree with the Lipa Declaration in supporting the National Transformation Council’s “proposal that with political reform there must go hand in hand comprehensive economic reform. With one strong voice, we must now say a vigorous “NO,” as Pope Francis has suggested, to an economics of exclusion and inequality, coming from a misguided vision of the human being and of society harmfully acted upon through myopic laws, policies and programs.”