Consumer groups lament unprecedented rice inflation
February 29, 2024

The Rice Liberalization Law has been in place for five years. Still, market prices have yet to drop to P25 per kilo, affecting farmers and consumers.

By LIA MERCADO
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Food advocates have expressed concern over the 22.6-percent rice inflation in the past month, the highest since 2009.

“No one else is to be blamed here but the Marcos government because he promoted it, just as he implemented the Rice Liberalization Law. It removed the government’s regulatory powers, prompting big traders, cartels, hoarders, and even smugglers to engage in profiteering and dictate prices,” women farmers group Amihan said in a statement.

The Rice Liberalization Law has been in place for five years. Still, market prices have yet to drop to P25 per kilo, affecting farmers and consumers. According to Amihan and Bantay Bigas, retail prices in Metro Manila are currently P54 per kilo while consumers in the provinces have to pay from P60 to P68 per kilo.

“People losing their purchasing power and the persistent poverty and hunger exacerbate the effects of inflation and unemployment,” the group added.

An OCTA Research Group survey showed that 75 percent of Filipinos are struggling with the national government’s efforts to mitigate inflation.

Meanwhile, at least 32 percent are wary of food security.

In a statement, thinktank Ibon Foundation said, “But the administration still insists on attracting more foreign investments as a policy. It claims that this will improve the economy’s competitiveness and create more, high-quality jobs that will help people cope with inflation through higher incomes.”

Similarly, the Social Weather Station (SWS) revealed that 22 million (or 8 out of 10 Filipinos) considered themselves poor or borderline poor in December 2023. This is despite National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Arsenio Balisacan’s statement that the government acknowledges the “significance and urgency of addressing these issues and challenges.”

Ibon Foundation stressed that people’s welfare is more important than abstract statistics of economic performance. “When so many Filipinos express dissatisfaction over [the] government’s management of the economy, the administration should take this as their cue that their preferred economic strategies are not working,” they added.

The group explained how strengthening domestic production through uplifting Filipino agricultural and industrial producers is the only long-term and sustainable solution to inflating prices, joblessness, food insecurity and poverty.

Both Amihan and Bantay Bigas encouraged farmers to defend farms and livelihoods, advocate for genuine land reform, reasonable rice prices, adequate farming subsidies and a halt to import liberalization.
“This is the solution to the rice and food crises — having the right to adequate food, food security and the country’s self-sufficiency.” (JJE, DAA)

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