By Filane Mikee Cervantes

Cash aid distribution (File photo)

MANILA – Marikina Representative Stella Quimbo on Tuesday called for the immediate distribution of cash aid, as she warned that the soaring inflation rates could plunge over 2 million more Filipinos into poverty.

During the briefing by the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC) for the House Committee on Appropriations, Quimbo said the potential PHP11.9-billion additional collection from value-added tax (VAT) from higher prices of goods in January can be tapped to help Filipinos cope with the high inflation.

Quimbo cited a study by the Asian Development Bank which estimated that 10 percent food inflation rate pushes an additional 2.3 million people into poverty.

“With an 11.2 percent food inflation rate that we are currently experiencing, nadagdagan ng 2.58 million ang bilang ng mga mahihirap na Pilipino (there would be 2.58 million more poor Filipinos),” Quimbo said.

Quimbo said due to the impact of food price increases, local producers are also taking the brunt of weaker production which will eventually affect jobs in the country.

She highlighted the role of Congress in helping resolve the country’s economic issues.

“There are more nuanced questions such as: Should Congress insist on the re-convening of the inter-agency unit on economic intelligence to intensify enforcement against agriculture cartels which have been engaged in hoarding and price manipulation? Should Congress grant the Department of Agriculture or the President additional powers to enforce food price stabilization measures? If so, what are these?,” Quimbo ended.

The DBCC briefing in the lower chamber has initiated the harmonization of efforts of the executive and legislative branches in tempering inflation and in achieving the medium-term fiscal framework’s (MTFF) poverty reduction targets.

Speaker Martin Romualdez, during the same hearing, said Congress and the economic managers can work together to pursue President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s whole of government approach to address economic problems.

“We are here together to see how we can work hand-in-hand and we’d like to very much hear from our economic managers how we can engage and make sure that our functions here in the Congress would become more meaningful, more responsive to the needs of the Filipino people,” Romualdez said.

“I reiterate the Congress’ willingness to work hand-in-hand and as they would say, that would like to be marching in lockstep with the executive in pursuing the solutions to the economic challenges that the country faces,” he added. (PNA)