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DTI mulls lifting rice price caps  

MANILA, Philippines —  The government is seriously considering lifting the cap on rice prices, Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual said yesterday as President Marcos and concerned officials are set to meet next week to review the implementation of the controversial measure which took effect on Sept. 5.

“There is a serious consideration for the lifting,” Pascual told reporters. “There is already a paper to be the basis of the decision. There is a basis made by NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority), in consultation with us.

“Maybe (in) another two weeks we will have a good idea of the availability of supply. Maybe within two weeks we should be able to lift, or to see whether we can lift the price cap already,” he said.

“The mandated price ceiling, when that order was issued, that’s very clear – it’s temporary. So as soon as we can see a better option of addressing that and we have achieved already the objective, then it should be lifted,” he added.

Asked if the government is far from achieving its objective of protecting consumers and keeping the country rice-secure, the NEDA chief replied: “No, that’s why we will meet soon to recommend other options.”

Executive Order No. 39 imposes a price ceiling for regular milled rice at P41 per kilo and P45 per kilo for well-milled rice.

Price monitors from the Department of Agriculture (DA) showed that the prevailing price of local regular milled rice ranged between P40 and P45 per kilo, lower than the P41-P52 per kilo on the first day of the price cap implementation.

Similarly, the prevailing price of well-milled rice stood at P45 to P49 per kilo yesterday, compared to the P45 to P53 per kilo range on Sept. 5.

Pascual emphasized earlier that the imposition of the price cap for rice is not a standalone measure of the government.

The DTI said earlier it would implement various forms of assistance to rice retailers/wholesalers, including small supermarkets, that would be affected by the price ceiling, in coordination with other government agencies and stakeholders.

These include financial assistance, loan programs, logistics support and market linkages and support.

As part of the support for retailers affected by the price ceiling, the government has started the distribution of the P15,000 financial assistance for affected retailers, through the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Sustainable Livelihood Program.

Market linkages

The DTI added that the government would also provide transportation in delivering rice from traders to retailers to reduce logistical costs.

Market linkages will also be established to link local farmers with supermarket chains and other retailers and promote bulk buying or advance purchase of supermarkets, restaurants, hotels, resorts and other commercial establishments.

Bureau of Plant Industry director Glenn Panganiban said the DTI and DA may now recommend to President Marcos the lifting of the price ceiling, as rice prices have begun to stabilize.

“The prices have started to stabilize. Once the DA and the DTI find it stable, we can already recommend to the President on what should be done,” Panganiban said, adding that more than 90 percent of the rice retailers were able to comply with the price cap.

Based on DA monitoring in Metro Manila markets, the retail prices of local regular milled rice ranged between P40 and P45 per kilo; local well-milled rice, P43 and P49; local premium rice, P49 and P60 per kilo; and local special rice, P54 and P65 per kilo.

Imported regular milled rice, P45 per kilo; imported premium rice, between P48 and P58 per kilo and imported special rice, P53 and P63 per kilo.

Panganiban stressed that efforts are being made to boost local rice production.

“Over the years, our rice sufficiency has increased, our sufficiency is now 80 to 90 percent and we complement that with our imports. If you ask if we have enough supply, yes, we have enough,” Panganiban said.

Solar-powered irrigation

As the country struggles to achieve food self sufficiency, former agriculture secretaries Manny Piñol and Leonardo Montemayor have urged the Marcos administration to undertake a nationwide solar-powered irrigation program.

Piñol and Montemayor said at least 200,000 hectares inadequately serviced by the National Irrigation Administration would benefit from a solar-powered irrigation program.

“An additional 1.5 million hectares of rain-fed uplands can be planted to rice and/or high value crops like soybean and vegetables during the dry season,” Montemayor said.

https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2023/09/22/2298037/dti-mulls-lifting-rice-price-caps- QR Code

Published Date: September 22, 2023

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