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The Philippines plans to spend more on fuel subsidies and increase coal supply, while considering additional food imports amid an oil price shock as the Russia-Ukraine war draws out. 

“The Philippine economy will likely be collateral damage,” Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said in a televised briefing Monday night. “It’s as if we are hit by a ricocheting bullet.” 

The Southeast Asian nation, which imports almost all of its petroleum requirements, is cushioning higher oil’s impact on food costs and the broader economy. The fallout from the war has pushed gasoline prices higher, leaving the consumer-driven economy vulnerable to shocks just as it has begun seeing a more solid recovery.

Economic Planning Secretary Karl Chua said the government can double the fuel subsidy to the public transport sector to 5 billion pesos ($96 million). It can also boost coal supply and reduce prices by cutting the so-called most favored nation tariff rate to zero from 7% until December, he said. 

Other proposals include:

  • Boosting rice imports if local production falters, while extending lower tariff on inbound shipments of the grain and pork that was placed to curb previous price spikes
  • Possible fish imports given a supply gap of 200,000 metric tons
  • Increasing buffer stock of petroleum to 45 days from 30 days and of liquefied petroleum gas to 15 days from seven days
  • Allowing foreign ownership in micro-grid, solar, wind and tidal energy

Some of these proposals will require certain changes in existing laws, and a special session in Congress may be recommended if the situation escalates, Chua said.

Read: Philippines’ Diokno Says Oil Is Key Risk From Russia-Ukraine War

With these measures, “we will be able to keep the inflation within our target range of 2%-4% and maintain our growth path of 7%-9% this year,” Dominguez said.