Press Release
February 26, 2018

P200 TRAIN subsidy good for 3.5 days of rice, one reason to keep prices stable

Government should see to it that rice prices will not spike by flooding the market with the fourth quarter bumper palay harvest, because that is the only way to calm the public that TRAIN has not triggered an uptick in the prices of goods, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said today.

Recto said people are using rice as the price barometer.

"No matter how many graphs government economists will show, the people will use rice price tags as the gauge of inflation," he said.

He said a stable rice price will ensure the P200 monthly "TRAIN subsidy" that government will be giving to 10 million households will not be eroded by any hike in the price of the country's food staple.

"'Yang P200 na yan, pambili lang ng bigas para sa tatlong araw na konsumo ng isang pamilya," Recto said, using the government's official survey that well-milled price is being retailed at an average P42.83 per kilo last Feb. 18, and regular milled rice at P39.01.

"Good for ten meals lang yung P200. Kung tataas ang presyo ng bigas na kahit kaunti, baka mabawasan ng isang meal, at ang kabawasan na 'yan ay may malaking epekto sa mga mahihirap," Recto said.

He said poor households spend 22 percent of their income on rice. "For the poorest 30 percent, rice eats up a big chunk of their budget."

Recto said rice has registered the highest retail price hike since 2010, increasing by 25 percent for well-milled rice and 27 percent for regular-milled rice--the two types which the poor consume.

But prices of two other kinds of rice - the "rice special" and "rice premium" - have gone up as well, with the former increasing from an average P43.22 per kilo in 2010 to P50.92 in 2016.

The senator said government must always be on its toes and be sensitive to price movements "of what is viewed as a political commodity."

"Kung mayroong distribution bottlenecks, i-unclog ang mga 'yan, para maganda ang daloy sa merkado. Maganda rin yung programa ng Department of Agriculture na maglabas ng rolling stores na magtitinda ng NFA rice doon sa lugar na maraming mahihirap," Recto said.

Using a P24.5 billion fund in the 2018 national budget, government will give 5.5 million households, who are not listed in the government's Conditional Cash Transfer program, P200 a month to help them weather the impact of new taxes on the cost of living.

They will join 4.5 million presently enrolled CCT families whose monthly stipends will also be increased by P200 - bringing to 10 million the number of families who will be aided so they could cope with TRAIN-triggered hikes in the prices of goods.

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