Research group IBON said that the 6.1% year-on-year September 2023 inflation primarily driven by faster food and transport inflation shows the Marcos Jr administration is failing to effectively address soaring prices and help poor and vulnerable Filipinos cope. Already, year-to-date 6.6% average inflation is still above the government’s forecasted average inflation target of 5.0-6.0 percent for the year. At least a monthly 4% inflation is needed for the remaining months of 2023 to meet this target.
The group said that low incomes are making it difficult for Filipino households to keep up with rising prices, even with the recent wage hike approvals in some regions. For instance, the National Capital Region (NCR) Php610 nominal minimum wage falls short of the Php1,186 family living wage (FLW) as of September 2023 for a family of five with a wage gap of 49% or Php576. The Region IV-A wage increase by Php50 to Php520 also falls short of the region’s Php1,108 FLW with a big wage gap of 53% or Php588.
IBON said that the toiling poor are bracing themselves for even higher prices with the administration’s removal of the otherwise ineffectual rice price cap and with higher fuel prices and transport fares. But the government could provide much-needed relief if it wanted to with urgent and more effective measures such as substantial wage hikes, ayuda and support for small businesses and producers. It can also take initial long-term steps like significantly boosting domestic agriculture support and ayuda for all in need through the 2024 national budget.