The government is ready to order the implementation of food imports to tame the country’s inflation, Malacañang said Monday.

In a Palace press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this statement after data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that the inflation rate jumped to a 20-month high of 3.3 percent in November from 2.5 percent in October.

Higher transport and food prices following a series of typhoons that affected farm harvests are the top contributors to November inflation.

“Ito nga po ay nakakalungkot pero ito po ay resulta ng mga bagay-bagay na hindi natin maku-control gaya ng sunud-sunod na mga bagyo na nagsalanta ng ating mga pananim na dahilan kaya um-increase po ang presyo ng ating mga bilihin lalo na sa pagkain at transportasyon (It is sad but it is the result of things that we cannot control such as a series of typhoons that have devastated our crops which is why the price of our goods has increased especially that in food and transportation),” he said.

Roque, however, said the inflation rate, which averaged 2.6 percent in the first 11 months, is within the government’s target range of 2 percent to 4 percent, but slightly higher than 2.5 percent in 2019.

“Well, pasok pa naman po sa target natin na (it still within our target of) between 2 to 4 percent ang inflation rate na (of) 3.3 percent,” he said.

He, meanwhile, assured that the government could step up food imports to reduce inflation.

“Pero huwag po kayong mag-alala, kung kinakailangang mag-angkat para pababain ang presyo ng pagkain, gagawin po natin iyan pero siyempre binabalanse po iyan dahil hindi naman pupuwedeng masyadong mababa dahil kawawa naman ang ating mga magsasaka kung masyadong mababa ang presyo ng ating mga agrikulturang mga produkto (But do not worry, if it is necessary to import to lower the price of food, we will do that but of course we balance that because it cannot be too low because our farmers will be affected if the price of our agricultural products is too low),” he said.

According to the PSA, food inflation picked up further to 4.5 percent last month from 2.1 percent in October and -0.2 percent in the same month last year.

The prices of vegetables and meat increased year-on-year by 14.6 percent and 8.2 percent, respectively.

Inflation for transport services increased 7.6 percent in November, a reversal of -2.4 percent in the same month last year, but slightly lower than 7.9 percent seen last October.

Recent typhoons also brought billions of pesos worth of damage to the agriculture sector. (PNA)