By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
The imposition of a suggested retail price on rice will have to be decided by the economic managers and the Department of Agriculture (DA), according to Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon M. Lopez.
Lopez said this yesterday after meeting with the National Price Coordinating Council (NPCC) to assess prices of basic and prime commodities. An SRP on rice was raised during a Senate hearing on rice.
“An SRP on rice is a policy issue so it is not just a decision of the NPCC but of the economic managers and the Department of Agriculture,” said Lopez, who chairs the NPCC.
The price of regular milled rice has increased from P37 to P40 per kilo, well-milled also went up to P42 from P40 last year and premium rice to P46 from P45 last year. The special rice was also up to P55 from P50 last year.
Lopez, however, made clear they are not reimposing the era where SRPs have to be approved by the DTI. The only thing the DTI is doing is to influence or a moral suasion on manufacturers on their pricing scheme.
Lopez also reported that prices of basic goods and commodities have remained stable and that the DTI has tightened its monitoring to prevent profiteering and influence to keep prices within suggested retail prices down to the grassroots level.
Lopez said that his agency monitors prices on a weekly basis and that out of 20 basic items carried in the supermarkets and groceries only one can be said to have imposed higher price than the SRPs.
There was no instance also that a retailer has been caught profiteering, which is a price higher than 10 percent.
In fact, other products, such as refined sugar, have gone down by P5-P50 this year from P55 last year. Agricultural products are also stable while some items such as tomatoes and papayas have reduced prices.
The canned goods manufacturers have already informed DTI of their intention to raise prices by P1 to P2 due to higher cost of tinplates and the foreign exchange rate, but Lopez said their computation showed the increase should only be between 36 to 50 centavos per can.
He, however, said that they will not prevent a price adjustment as long as this is limited to one or two brands only.
A sardines brand has minimal price hikes but the same brands have lower prices in the regions.
The DTI is also launching the “Suking Tindahan” to sari-sari stores that will volunteer to adhere to the SRP prices in an effort to ensure that prices remained at the SRP level even up to the grassroots level. Those with the badge of “Suking Tindahan” will have the benefit of getting supplies from manufacturers at wholesale rates.