President Rodrigo R. Duterte is now considering calling for a special session in Congress to pass legislation to reduce the impact of the Ukraine-Russia crisis on the country’s economy.
In his public address last Monday, Duterte said he will look into the recommendation of the Economic Development Cluster (EDC) to ask lawmakers to pass laws related to protecting consumers against the anticipated surge in the price of basic goods and services.
“Let us be frank with Congress. This is intended really for the welfare of the people,” Duterte said.
He issued the statement after Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendric T. Chua disclosed at least two of their proposed measures to mitigate the effects of the Ukraine-Russia turmoil will need to go through legislation.
This includes their proposal to increase the country’s oil buffer stock from 30 days to 45 days and for liquified petroleum gas (LPG) from 7 to 15 days.
“There are two [measures] which need a law. We will prepare it immediately so that Congress can consider it immediately when they return in May for a session,” Chua said.
Congress adjourned its session last month for the upcoming May 9, 2022 National and Local Elections. It is expected to resume its session on May, 23, 2022.
Chua said the other recommendation of the EDC to raise the resilience of the country’s economy is to place the entire country under Alert Level 1 and open all schools for face-to-face classes to increase domestic economic activity.
He also recommended doubling the existing budget for fuel subsidy for public utility vehicles (PUV) from P2.5 billion to P5 billion as well as the budget for fuel vouchers from P500 million to P1.1 billion.
Likewise, the EDC also wants to expand the supply and reduce the price of coal by reducing the most favored nation (MFN) 7 percent tariff of the said resource to zero until Dec. 2022.
To keep food prices in check, it proposed the importation of more rice during the lean season starting July as well as expanding the MFN 35 percent tariff rate until the end of the year for the said food item.
A similar adjustment for MFN was proposed by the EDC for corn and pork, while it called for the issuance certificate for the necessity to import for small pelagic fish to address the local shortage of its supplies.
The EDC also wants to maintain the reliable supply of chick, sugar, and wheat in the market by accelerating the issuance of necessary permits to import or finding new sources for the said products.
The EDC issued the said proposals following the recent spike in oil prices in the world market after Russian military forces attacked Ukraine last month.
The Department of Finance (DOF) expects the impact of the conflict on the local economy will be temporary, but may cause lingering effects, which the government needs to watch for.
Duterte said the issue will likely spill over to the next administration since his term is already about to end.
He urged the next administration to consider the recommendation made by the EDC to alleviate the economic impact of the Ukraine-Russia conflict.
“The recommendations ng NEDA are really vital to the to keep the economy humming for a few months,” Duterte said.