Boosting agri sector key to taming inflation

The Manila Times Chairman and CEO Dante ‘Klink’ Ang 2nd (left) interviews Dioceldo Sy on SMNI’s ‘Business and Politics’ on Saturday, March 18, 2023. PHOTO BY MIKE ALQUINTO

THE founder and chief executive officer of Ever Bilena Cosmetics has proposed that the government strengthen the agriculture sector to help rein in inflation.

Guesting at the “Business and Politics” program on SMNI, Dioceldo Sy told the host, Manila Times Chairman and CEO Dante “Klink” Ang 2nd, that building up the farm sector could be a better approach to managing inflation.

Sy also said many businesses will find it “very hard” to comply with a P150 daily minimum wage, which is being contemplated in the Senate.

He said that if the minimum wage is hiked by P150, many business owners might be forced to reduce their workforce by as much as 30 percent.

Sy said helping farmers to be more productive could help ease the burden of soaring prices of food essentials.

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“Subsidize fertilizers, give it to the farmers,” he said. Increasing farm hectarage, which is what is being done in Vietnam, Thailand and China, should also be looked into by the government.

Security Bank Corp. Assistant Vice President Robert Dan Roces said that bigger importations of food items and subsidies to jeepney drivers, farmers and fisherfolk could temper inflation in the months ahead.

Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri has filed a bill that will raise the minimum wage by P150. “A decent life costs a decent wage,” said Zubiri.

The measure also authorizes the Department of Labor and Employment to inspect the financial records of a company to ensure that its employees are being paid the minimum wage.

Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, who heads the Senate labor committee that will tackle Zubiri’s bill, said in a statement that striking a balance is needed.

“While I agree that a wage increase is needed, I think we need to strike a balance between the interests of workers and their employers who also suffered from the pandemic,” said Estrada.

“More than the issue of wage increase is the issue of job security,” Estrada said.

Unemployment rose to 4.8 percent in January 2023 from 4.3 percent in December, translating to 2.37 million jobless Filipinos.

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