Breakfast with Ben
Breakfast with Ben is a weekly informal and casual discussion of Department of Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno with media to talk about the latest news on the budget, economic reforms and government policies.
September 5, 2018
8:30 AM – 10:30 AM
5F, Joy Nostalg, ADB Avenue, Ortigas, Pasig
DBM Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno
1. National Government Disbursement Performance for July 2018
2. Commendation from OGP leadership
3. Updates on Project Dime
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(Editor’s note: The starting time may change due to scheduling constraints.)
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- The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that the headline inflation rate accelerated to 6.4 percent year-on-year (YOY) in August 2018, faster than the previous month’s 5.7 percent and the 2.6 percent of the same period last year. This brings the year-to-date inflation to 4.8 percent, beyond the upper-band of the government’s inflation target of 2 to 4 percent, and slightly below the BSP’s revised full-year inflation forecast of 4.9 percent. Meanwhile, month-on-month inflation (MOM) accelerated to 0.9 percent, from 0.5 percent in July 2018.
The highest contributors to inflation in August are electricity, gas, and fuels, fish, rice, personal transport, vegetables, and meat. Reforms in agriculture will continuously be implemented to address the supply issues causing the rise in food prices. This is supported by the lowest regional inflation rate recorded in food-abundant and agriculturally-productive Region III at 3.6 percent. A committed effort from government in the agriculture sector to boost supply of key products and introduce policy reforms will bring down prices for all Filipino families.
An initial meeting was conducted today,September 5, 2018, with the Department of Finance (DOF), the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the National Economic Development and Authority (NEDA), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr), and some members of the National Food Authority (NFA) Council to address food inflation. Immediate reforms for reducing food prices include the following:
A. On fish, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has committed to replicating the issuance of certificates of necessity to allow imports to be distributed in the wet markets in Metro Manila and to the other markets of the country.
B. On rice supply issues, 4.6 million sacks of rice available in NFA warehouses will be immediately released to the market across the country. We also expect approximately 2.0 million sacks of rice previously contracted to be delivered before the end of September. In addition, the NFA Council authorized the importation of 5.0 million sacks that will be arriving over the next one and half months and another 5.0 million sacks will be imported early next year. To address the reported shortage in Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-tawi, 2.7 million sacks will be allocated to these areas. In addition, harvest has also started in many parts of the country, with the projected harvest for 2018 of 12.6 million MT of rice, the equivalent of 252 million sacks.
C. The economic managers have agreed to recommend to the President the issuance of a directive to further simplify and streamline the licensing procedures for rice imports of the NFA. Moreover, we urge the Senate to immediately pass the Rice Tariffication Bill within the month.
D. The DTI, NFA, Philippine National Police (PNP), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and farmer groups will form a monitoring team for surveillance of rice from ports to NFA warehouses and retail outlets.
E. On chicken, to reduce the gap between the farm gate and retail prices, DA and DTI will convene poultry producers and setup public markets where producers can sell directly to the end customer. DA will provide cold storage for this purpose.
F. The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) will open importation of sugar to direct users to moderate cost to consumers.
G. The spike in the prices of vegetables was attributed to seasonal weather conditions. We will see relief in this area after the typhoon season.
H. The Bureau of Customs will prioritize the release of essential food items in the ports.
The government’s economic team has previously announced that inflation is expected to peak in the third quarter before tapering off towards the latter part of the year, and then fall within the government’s target by next year. However, inflation in August was beyond the median market forecast. We remain steadfast in putting forward and accelerating these measures that will address food prices for all Filipinos.
- The Philippines receives yet another nod from the Open Government Partnership (OGP) leadership for improving and expanding its open government practices under DBM Secretary Benjamin Diokno’s term, further cementing the country’s position as a global leader in Open Government.
In a letter to Secretary Diokno, OGP Chief Executive Officer Sanjay Pradhan lauded the Philippines’ “impressive efforts made under [Secretary Diokno’s] leadership to localize and promote OGP […] across local governments”.
In the first quarter of the year, the Department of Budget and Management, home of the Philippines’ Secretariat for OGP, organized six Open Government and Participatory Governance Regional Dialogues that gathered local governments and non-government organizations in 78 out of 81 provinces in the country.
As a result of these dialogues, five Local Government Units (LGUs)—Legazpi City, and the provinces of Albay, Bohol, Surigao del Norte, and South Cotabato—have committed to adopt open government programs such as Freedom of Information Program, 8888 Hotline, and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. Two Regional Development Councils (RDCs)—specifically, Region 5 and Region 11—also committed to support localization of national OGP commitments, and participate in co-creating new commitments for the next action plan.
Through the current National Action Plan, local governments have already made their stamp in OGP with the inclusion of the Open Local Legislative Process initiative, the first time that LGUs have a commitment under the country action plan. The local governments of Albay, Bohol, and Surigao Del Norte targets to set up online mechanisms to open up their local legislative process to the wider public for feedback and comments.
According to OGP CEO Pradhan, the Philippines is a “pioneer” in localizing OGP, and that the OGP leadership is “keen to learn from [our] experiences” in this area.
Philippines to lead region for next generation of reforms
CEO Pradhan also thanked the Secretary for supporting peer exchange with other OGP countries, particularly Mongolia and Papua New Guinea.
During the OGP Global Summit held in Tbilisi, Georgia last July, the Philippine delegation led a session that tackled cross-country experiences in going local with OGP and improving public service delivery. In addition, the Philippines also hosted a bilateral meeting with the Government of Mongolia. It was agreed then that the Philippines would host a study tour for a delegation from Mongolia, for the Mongolians to benchmark on the Philippines’ experience on effective OGP Action Plan implementation, mainstreaming, and localization efforts.
Last June, the Philippines’ Point of Contact, Marianne Fabian served as a resource speaker in the High Level OGP Conference in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea and shared the country experience in OGP action plan co-creation and implementation.
Given its expertise, the Philippines is “positioned to build a strong regional coalition to identify and collectively implement the next generation of ambitious reforms”, CEO Pradhan said in the letter.