PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said on Monday evening, January 23, 2023, that thinking of ways on how to bring down the country’s inflation is making him lose sleep.

In a sit-down interview with television news anchors, Marcos was asked to explain how the country made it to the list of best performing economies in Asia while inflation, the rate of the increase of prices of consumer goods and services at a certain period of time, is high.

“The reason na tinitignan ang Pilipinas na magandang performance ay dahil sa ibang bagay kasi maghanap ka ng bansa na 7.1 percent ang growth rate na bumaba ng 4.2 percent ang unemployment rate na mas mababa ngayon bago ng pandemya, ibig sabihin nakapag create tayo ng halos two million jobs mula noong 2020 until now. Pati ‘yung peso mejo tumibay na, palagay ko kaya hindi lang inflation kasi lahat ng bansa ganyan din ang inflation,” Marcos said.

“That’s what I lose sleep with every night over is how to bring down inflation. I’m determined to bring down to make sure that the inflation starts to come down in the first quarter and magnormalize na pagkatapos noon,” he added.

The country’s inflation rate stood at 8.1 percent in December 2022, the highest for 2022 and the highest since November 2008.

Marcos earlier attributed the high inflation rate to the country’s dependency on importation.

He said the country needs to improve its production especially on agricultural products to arrest inflation.

In September, the Department of Agriculture, headed by Marcos, allowed the importation of sugar to address the shortage and address its soaring prices that reached over P100 per kilo.

In January, the agency also green lighted the importation of over 21 metric tons (MT) of yellow and red onions due to low supply, bringing its price to as high as P720 per kilogram.

Agriculture Assistant Secretary Rex Estoperez said the 400 MT of yellow onions and 800 MT of red onions have already arrived in the country but would need to be cleared first by the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) before being released into the local market.

But Marcos said making such a short-term move will still take some time to bring down the prices and be realized on the ground.

The country also has an outstanding debt of P13.6 trillion, according to the National Treasury.

Marcos said they aim to bring out the country from debt through growth, which is the guiding principle of his administration’s economic plan.

He said foreign investment will have a crucial role in increasing the country’s growth and in creating more jobs, which justifies his frequent trips abroad since he took office.

“Magpapakilala muna tayo. Kapag hindi tayo bumiyahe at nagpakita sa mga conference na ‘yan, hindi nila tayo iniisip. Wala sa isipan nila ang Pilipinas… Kailangan natin ipakita kung ano ang ating para mapaganda ang potential investment nila na dadalhin nila dito sa Pilipinas,” the President said.

(Let’s introduce ourselves first. When we don’t travel and show up at those conferences, they don’t think about us. The Philippines is not on their mind… We need to show what we have to improve their potential investment that they will bring here in the Philippines.)

“I am the new kid in the block, nobody knows who I am. Kailangan ko magpakilala. It’s important also na magkaroon ng personal na connection sa mga lider…Pagpunta natin sa mga conference na yan, sinasabi nating the Philippines can play its part in fostering and encouraging that cooperation…May lugar tayo, we are participating in the issues, in the discussion and in the efforts in the community of nations kailangan kasama tayo diyan,” he added.

(I am the new kid on the block, nobody knows who I am. I need to introduce myself. It’s also important to have a personal connection with the leaders…When we go to those conferences, we say the Philippines can play its part in fostering and encouraging that cooperation…We have a place, we are participating in the issues, in the discussion and in the efforts in the community of nations, we need to be there.)

Among the countries that Marcos visited since July were Indonesia, Singapore, Cambodia, United States, Thailand, Belgium, China and Switzerland where he attended various conferences and met other state leaders.

The most recent trip was in Davos, Switzerland where he attended the World Economic Forum (WEF), meeting some of the biggest businessmen in the world.

For the rest of the year, only his visit to Japan and his attendance at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation in the United States in November have so far been confirmed. (SunStar Philippines)