DTI admits this much for basic goods, cites high cost of raw materials
On the back of worries about a looming food crisis for the second half of the year, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said Friday it could not keep the prices of some commodities low because the cost of raw materials had increased.
Trade Undersecretary Ruth Castelo said in a televised briefing: “We cannot stop the price from moving because the price of raw materials also increased. These are the products’ major ingredients.”
The Department of Agriculture had warned this week of an impending food crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, high fuel costs, and the impact of Russia’s Ukraine invasion.
But the DTI said it is constantly monitoring the price movement of some goods, after recently approving the price hike of some commodities.
Castelo said only the price of 82 basic necessities and prime commodities in the suggested retail price bulletin had an increase out of their 212 stock keeping units.
DTI released a new SRP list last week, showing the new set of minimum increases for some products.
Castelo noted: “All supermarkets and groceries are covered by this because we are monitoring until the 2nd level of the supply chain. We are sure that they are following the SRP in these establishments.”
Aside from monitoring the SRP in groceries and establishments, she said her agency was making sure that the price of goods would be maintained, as they also monitor the supply of retail and manufacturing given the demand.
Castelo added they could not assure the public that SRP would be followed in retail stores because their “supply chain mechanism is different.”
Meanwhile, the poultry group United Broilers and Raisers Association is against the reappointment of Agriculture Secretary William Dar, who has recently offered his services to the incoming administration.
Poultry stakeholders said Dar “promoted a regime of importation and cultivated the vested interests of importers at the expense of farmers.”
In an open letter to President-elect Ferdinand Bongbong R. Marcos Jr., UBRA said Filipino farmers became sacrificial lambs to Dar’s import policy that failed to lower food prices.
“Retail prices have remained high despite increasing importation through the years. It has made us dependent on overseas employment and business process outsourcing,” said UBRA president Jose Elias M. Inciong.
The group recalled that during Dar’s term, the Commission on Audit found fiscal anomalies at the DA involving P9.45 billion in disallowances, audit suspensions, and charges; P17.54 billion in unliquidated fund transfers to implementing agencies and non-government organizations; P20.21 billion unliquidated fund transfers in prior years; and, P9.806 billion that was returned to national treasury.
Should Dar continue to lead the DA in the Marcos Administration, UBRA believes Dar will only heighten the Philippines’ vulnerability to climate change and imperil food security.
“It will be the (incoming) Marcos’s administration’s biggest fault to reappoint Dar. He has been openly and aggressively campaigning to be retained as secretary of Agriculture,” Inciong said.
“Secretary Dar’s tenure has been about importation from heavily subsidized agricultural systems. We are on very dangerous ground because he implemented import liberalization to the hilt. Reappointing Dar will not be an act of shooting oneself in the foot but in the head,” he added.
In related developments, Dar said beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) would only be the “first priority” if ever the state-subsidized NFA rice becomes available again in the market.
Dar said this would depend on the subsidy that would be provided by the government to the National Food Authority.
“If the subsidy would be increased, then more poor families will be allowed to avail of NFA rice. As we have more budget for NFA, more rice will be released every now and then to NFA outlets,” Dar said.
NFA rice has not been available in the market since August 2019.
The Department of Agriculture earlier said to make rice more affordable, it is looking to make NFA rice available in the market again but only for beneficiaries of 4Ps.
Dar said the plan to bring back NFA rice would not need an amendment to the Rice Tariffication Law.