By Madelaine B. Miraflor
To protect consumers from overpricing, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said on Wednesday that suggested retail prices (SRPs) will be imposed starting next week on rice, fish, and vegetables.
The Technical Working Group (TWG) composed of officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department and Trade and Industry (DTI) – which is tasked to resolve issues surrounding the rice sector and other food commodities – was already at the tail-end of its computations on how much SRPs will be imposed on basic food commodities.
“We hope to impose SRPs next week especially on rice,” Piñol told reporters, adding that products that will initially have an SRP are rice, bangus, tilapia, galunggong, pechay, talong, among others.
For rice, Piñol said the price should not go beyond P40 per kilo.
The SRPs also form part of the government’s effort to address the rising prices of basic crops which is being blamed on the Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law – the first tax reform to be implemented in the Philippines in many years.
Piñol said that businessmen are now using the TRAIN law as an excuse to increase the prices of agriculture commodities that they are selling.
“They are blaming the TRAIN law. They are blaming the oil price hike. They will always have a way of justifying the increase in the price of the items in the market,” said.
As for the SRP on poultry products, Piñol said the government is planning to meet with poultry stakeholders next week to ask for their total cost of production.
As of now, the government imposes a penalty of P1,000 to P1 million for those who would sell products beyond their respective SRPs.
The proposal to put SRPs on pork and poultry products is not new. In 2014, the DA made the same proposal to ensure that there’s a stable supply of meat during the holidays when consumption is usually up.
This was backed by agriculture lobby group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag), which said that the prevailing retail prices for these commodities are normally way higher than the farm gate prices.