The Department of Trade and Industry (CTI) will be implementing price setting and price ceiling schemes as a measure to control increasing inflation for certain agricultural products. DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez said Monday that his agency has received the support of the National Food Authority (NFA), Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA), and Department of Agriculture (DA).
The initiative will allow retailers and traders with retailing outlets or retailing partners to import well-milled rice and refined sugar, but only if they guarantee that the products will be sold at the government specified price. Well-milled rice is to be sold at PHP38 per kilogram and refined sugar at PHP50 per kilogram.
Lopez has also said that the NFA Council has agreed to let retailers and traders import a total volume of 350,000 metric tones. According to the Trade Secretary, this volume is sufficient for 20 days of stock.
Major supermarket operators such as Robinsons and Ouregold have expressed their interest to join the program, says Lopez. Besides these, the DTI is also in talks with the Philippine Consumer Centric Traders Association, a group of supermarket operators. If the talks prove fruitful, these major retailers could be part of the price setting scheme for rice.
Besides supermarkets, the government is open to partnerships with those interested in the program.
“They realized the speed that this can be done if we allow the private sector, especially the retailers, and again this is allowed for traders with a retailing outlet or a retailing partner,” said Lopez.
An earlier scheme by the DTI in partnership with the NFA and the Philippine Amalgamated Supermarkets Association (PAGASA) allowed for members of PAGASA to sell NFA rice at PHP27 per kilo.
The first shipment of the new imported rice stocks is expected to arrive next month.
“With this new importation plus this program with the retailers and traders, this will have an immediate impact on prices of rice,” Lopez said in Filipino. “Hopefully, [this will] pull down the prices [of rice].”
Price ceiling implementation for refined sugar will follow the same scheme. The measure hopes to increase the available supply in the market for both goods.
According to Lopez, the SRA’s suggestion is for retailers to purchase their sugar supply directly from millers and refineries.
“SRA will give a list of millers and refineries where retailers can directly buy to meet the price of PHP50 so we can bring it back to the market,” he said, adding that this will benefit consumers.
“For the end-users or the industry users, they will just simply apply to SRA. Today, they will start accepting the bids for permits for the importation of sugar,” the DTI chief added.
Another product to fall under the scheme is chicken. However, this would be a ‘moving price ceiling’, or a threshold to be evaluated and set every three days. However, a maximum markup of PHP50 per kilo between farm gate prices and retail prices is all that will be allowed.