April 13, 2024

The government is ramping up efforts to mitigate the impacts of El Niño, the National Economic and Development Authority said.

“We have been mobilizing for the anticipated impacts of the upcoming El Niño through a comprehensive, coordinated, science-based approach involving the national and local governments in the water, agriculture, energy, health and public safety sectors,” NEDA Sec. Arsenio Balisacan said in a year-end briefing.

Balisacan said the Inter-agency Committee on Inflation and Market Outlook (IAC-IMO) has been tasked to monitor the developments in the market, particularly specific commodities such as food, to ensure that the government will fill the gap in supply and prices will remain stable.

“As reported, the El Niño is expected to persist until the second quarter of next year, as opposed to our earlier expectation that it would peak and then recede within the first quarter of next year. So that is a longer period,” said Balisacan.

He said the government agencies such as the departments of Agriculture, Energy, and Health are tasked to ensure that the negative effects of the drought, particularly the outbreak of diseases, will also be completely controlled.

Balisacan said while El Niño will not likely have a significant impact on the country’s economic growth, the government wants to make sure that negative effects will be curbed.

“So with respect to growth, the effect to the economy, I don’t think that it will make a big difference. But the channel will probably be more on the prices, because if the food prices will pick up, then the gains that we have made in lowering inflation will be reversed, and we don’t want that,” he said.

He also assured that irrigation dams are full but noted that there is also a need to conserve since El Niño will linger longer than expected.

Balisacan said the NEDA board is also set to discuss on Thursday the proposal to extend anew the lower tariff on rice, corn, and pork under Executive Order (EO) 10.

EO 10 extended the reduced Most Favored Nation (MFN) tariff rates on meat of swine (fresh, chilled or frozen) at 15 percent (in-quota) and 25 percent (out-quota); corn at five percent (in-quota) and 15 percent (out-quota); rice at 35 percent (in-quota and out-quota); and coal at zero duty until the end of this year.

“What has been discussed and endorsed by the committee on tariff and related matters of the NEDA board is a proposal to extend the currently reduced tariffs for those commodities,” Balisacan said.

The Department of Science and Technology earlier reported that around six provinces or seven percent of the total provinces nationwide may experience a dry spell.

Around 65 provinces, or 77 percent of the total provinces of the country, are also forecast to experience drought by the end of May 2024. – PNA