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Cartels not considered when admin pushed TRAIN, says Cynthia Villar

GMA News Online logo GMA News Online 9/11/2018 Bordadora, Norman
Cynthia Villar © Benjie Castro Cynthia Villar

Senator Cynthia Villar on Tuesday  blamed the country's 6.4-percent inflation rate on rice cartels.

In an interview on News To Go, the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food said President Rodrigo Duterte's economic managers overlooked the presence of the cartels when they pushed for the administration's flagship Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) Law.

The Train law was enacted in January.

“Nakaapekto po 'yung [excise taxes sa] gasoline [sa pagtaas ng inflation rate] pero ang hindi nila nakita na may tendency ang ating traders na mag-speculate [ng prices]," Villar said.

"'Yun ang hindi nabilang. Malaki 'yun eh. In a country where there are cartels, mahirap mabilang 'yun,” he added.

Based on state-run Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the main drivers of inflation are the increased prices of rice, fish, electricity and operation of private vehicles.

Assistant Secretary Tony Lambino of the Department of Finance earlier said in a news briefing that the government economic managers, as well as private analysts, all miscalculated the peak inflation rate.

But despite the unabated increase of the prices of the staple food rice which has ranged to P45 to P70 per kilo, Villar does not see the need for a declaration of state of calamity which would have allowed the President to impose price control on basic commodities.

“Sinusuma po kasi 'yung production minus consumption, talagang enough naman po [ang supply] kasi bumili, nag-import pa tayo. Kasi pag ang bigas nasa traders na, hindi na po natin kontrolado 'yun, kaya ang gusto natin 'yung NFA mayroon siyang supply of rice kasi pag lahat nasa traders na, we have a problem kasi sila na magde-determine kung ilalabas nila 'yun at ipagbibili nila sa anong presyo,” Villar said, referring to National Food Authority.

NFA rice is priced at P27 to P32 per kilo.

“'Yung hinihingi lang namin ay 'yung [imposition ng] price ceiling. Hindi po kailangan mag declare ng state of emergency roon. If you feel there is price manipulation, you do [impose] price ceiling,” Villar said.

Lambino said on Monday that the rice and fish imports due to arrive in seven to eight weeks, as well as the ushering of the harvest season, were expected to ease the prices of these food communities.

Villar, however, conceded that the country could not depend on importation, especially on rice, for so long.

“We have three and a half million farmers. If we do not protect them, lalong mawawalan ng ganang magtanim ng palay 'yan. 'Pag 'yan nawala, then we import everything. Wala namang magbibigay sa atin ng ganong karaming bigas,” Villar said. —NB, GMA News

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