Business chamber eager to hear food security, inflation plans in SONA

PLANS dealing with food security and inflation will be among the most eagerly expected portions of the State of the Nation Address (SONA) to be delivered by President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. on July 25, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) said on Tuesday.

PCCI President George T. Barcelon told the BusinessWorld Live program on One News channel: “We know that the President is in charge of the agricultural portfolio. So, we’d like to see what’s the roadmap for this in view of our issues with food supply. We know very well that food prices have been going up primarily because of external factors, and also because of supply chain (issues). So that is top of mind on the agriculture side,” Mr. Barcelon said.

Mr. Barcelon said the SONA, which will open the next session of Congress, should also include plans for addressing inflation.

The Philippine Statistics Authority reported that headline inflation surged to 6.1% in June on the back of higher food and transport prices.

“The other thing that is of concern is the inflation that we’re facing. Again, this is (due to) international cost-push impact. I think this has to be addressed (because) the salary of the working people may not cover it,” Mr. Barcelon said.

Mr. Barcelon expressed the hope that Mr. Marcos will address helping the tourism industry recover and discuss energy security.

“We’re seeing that our tourism business has picked up… I hope (travel and leisure) is considered low-hanging fruit… The government should (pay attention) to this. This not only creates jobs, but it’s a foreign currency earner,” Mr. Barcelon said. 

Mr. Barcelon added that he is hoping for an expansion of the power grid’s connectivity “so that areas with an oversupply can redirect (electricity) to areas that need power.”

Separately, Tourism Congress of the Philippines President Jose C. Clemente III told the Agenda program on One News channel that the tourism industry is worried about the rising prices of goods. 

“I’m fearful of the tourists’ threshold (for continuing to travel) since the prices of goods are increasing,” Mr. Clemente said.

While travelers remain willing to absorb high fuel costs and airfares, “maybe we are already nearing the threshold past which they’ll just say never mind, I’ll just do it next time when prices are lower,” he added. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

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