DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The slowdown of the inflation rate in the country in February is but an artificial one, a progressive lawmaker said.
Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP) Rep. Arlene Brosas said that there is still an urgent need for the implementation of a significant wake hike for workers.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported on Thursday that inflation hit 2.6% last month. This is lower than the 2.9% recorded in January, as global demand for oil slowed down due to the COVID-2019 outbreak.
But Brosas said that the lower inflation should not be used to extend minimum wage freeze in at least eight regions for more than a year now.
“The February inflation data should not be used to prolong the wage hike drought in several regions across the country. This has become a burden especially among mothers who are forcing their family’s low income to fit their daily needs amidst the increasing cost of living in the country. A substantial wage should immediately be implemented,” Brosas said.
GWP noted that the daily minimum wage of workers in National Capital Region has been stuck at P537 since the last quarter of 2018 despite the back-to-back tranches of added taxes under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law.
Other regions that have not yet implemented wage hikes since 2018 include Region 2, Region IV-A, Region IV-B, Region V (Bicol region), Region IX (Zamboanga region), Region X (Northern Mindanao region) and Region XI (Davao region).
“Women workers, in particular, are being paid below minimum wage especially in sectors with generally low productivity and low value-adding activities such as the retail sector,” she said.
The ‘artificial’ slower inflation does not reflect the impacts of massive importation of agricultural goods on local farmers, Brosas added.
“The fact that we are being swamped by cheap imported goods to the detriment of local farmers should not be left out in the picture. Farmers were forced to reduce the prices of their goods due to liberalization on agriculture,” added Brosas.
Maintain lowered inflation
On the other hand, Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (DCCCII) President John Carlo Tria hoped that the country’s inflation level will be maintained at a manageable level as it will “allow the purchasing power of Filipinos to increase as growth rises.”
“Low inflation levels will allow us to protect the growth we have been achieving, as this will mean higher purchasing power for businesses as people can spend more and drive economic expansion especially in the rural areas, from which our food is supplied,” Tria said in a statement on Thursday (March 5). (davaotoday.com)