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Aug 15, 2018 @ 10:56

Market prices ain’t enough: DA wants price caps set on agri products

MANILA — The Department of Agriculture (DA) is mulling putting price caps and suggested retail prices (SRPs) on more agricultural commodities, such as sugar, soon.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said Tuesday this might come soon to prevent uncontrolled spiraling of prices ahead of the Yuletide season.

“There’s no way to maintain market prices. The only way to go is control these to levels that consumers aren’t complaining,” Piñol said at the press conference for the 32nd National Coconut Week celebration in Metro Manila.

He said the DA will continue consulting with stakeholders regarding the possibility of setting SRPs for additional agricultural
commodities before deciding on the matter.

Last June, the DA set Metro Manila SRPs for regular milled rice (PHP39/kilo), medium to big milkfish of two to five pieces per kilo (PHP150/kilo), medium-sized tilapia of six pieces per kilo (PHP100/kilo), medium galunggong of 11 to 20 pieces per kilo (PHP140/kilo), red onion (PHP95/kilo), white onion (PHP75/kilo), imported variety garlic (PHP70/kilo), and local variety garlic (PHP120/kilo).

Selling prices of such commodities must not exceed 10 percent of the SRPs, or violators would be charged with profiteering, Pinol said.

He said a profiteer faces imprisonment and fine of up to around PHP1 million.

Sugar is among the next batch of agricultural commodities the DA is considering for possible SRP coverage, Piñol said.

“We’re looking into commodities with price movements consumers complain about,” he noted.

In its situationer covering the fourth week of July 2018, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported price for a kilogram of brown sugar increased by PHP1 in Kidapawan City and by PHP3 in Region I’s San Fernando City, but fell by PHP2 in Cebu City and by PHP5 in Baguio and Davao.

Shortage of government-subsidized National Food Authority rice in the market had already prompted surge in prices of commercial rice.

Market players also cited the implementation of Republic Act 10963, or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Law, as fueling commodity price hikes in the country.

But Piñol said enforcing SRPs could help address possible further surge in commodity prices, as it guards against traders taking undue advantage of the situation.

Earlier, Piñol said the DA might change its set SRPs from time to time, depending on the situation.

If prices of farm inputs for commodities increase, for example, he said government would take that into account when evaluating validity of prevailing SRPs for these.

Doing so helps ensure the availability of affordable food without jeopardizing farmers’ earning potential, he said.

The DA will continue coordinating with Department of Trade and Industry regarding the enforcement of SRPs, he added. (PNA)


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