Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez met with the National Price Coordinating Council (NPCC) members today at the audio-visual room of the Board of Investments Building to appraise the price and supply situation of basic necessities and prime commodities during the first quarter of this year and their projected trend in the next three (3) months due to inflation rates and other factors that may be affecting production cost.

This is the first NPCC meeting for the year with Secretary Lopez together with Department of Trade and Industry – Consumer Protection Group’s (DTI-CPG) Undersecretary Atty. Teodoro C. Pascua and Assistant Secretary Ernesto V. Perez.

Supply and Situation Updates

The Sugar Regulatory Board (SRB) reported that the price of a P50-kilo bag of raw, washed and refined sugar in the wholesale market have decreased from January to March 2017. SRB admits, however, that the decrease in prices has yet to be translated in the retail market.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), on the other hand, reported that the prevailing prices of rice (regular milled, well milled and premium) are generally stable across the country as well as the cooking oil.

According to PSA, prices of vegetables like ampalaya, sitao, cabbage, carrots, habitchuelas, tomato, onion (red), white potato, eggplant and pechay native have decreased across the regional centers that they monitor. PSA also reported that in 80% of regional centers, they recorded price increases on meat products like lean meat and pork liempo.

PSA added that fruits like mango and papaya also recorded an upward trend in prices except for banana latundan and lakatan, which remained stable.

On oil prices, the Department of Energy (DOE) reported that there was a decrease in the price of gasoline at P0.31 per liter, diesel at P0.60 per liter and kerosene at P1.40 per liter for the first quarter. DOE also reported that they recorded a total price adjustment of P9.09 per kilogram of LPG but with a price roll back of P5.00 in April.

Both the DTI-Fair Trade and Enforcement Bureau (FTEB) and Department of Health (DOH) reported that the prices of products under the categories of basic necessities and prime commodities that they regularly monitor have remained stable.

Foreign Exchange Rate and Inflation Rate

According to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the inflation rate by March 2017 stood at 3.4% which is higher than the 3.3% rate registered last month but still within the government expected target of 2%-4%.

The BSP reported that the value of peso has weakened due mainly to stronger market sentiment towards the US dollar.

The BSP continues to expect a volatile exchange market brought about by increased risk aversion owing to uncertainty over global growth prospects and political development overseas among others.

Nevertheless, the BSP is hopeful that the Philippine peso will continue to cope up on this with the inflow of OFW remittances, BPO revenues, and tourism receipts; steady foreign investments on stable credit standing; ample level of international reserves; and favourable growth outlook on firm domestic demand, supported by ample liquidity.

Suggested Retail Price (SRP)

The Council also discussed the DTI’s plan to deregulate the setting of Suggested Retail Prices (SRPs) for basic necessities and prime commodities.

Based on the DTI-Department of Agriculture (DA)-Department of Health (DOH)- Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR) Joint Administrative Order (JAO) No. 1 Series of 1993, otherwise known as the “Rules and Regulations Implementing R.A. 7581- An Act Providing Protection To Consumers By Stabilizing The Prices Of Basic Necessities And Prime Commodities And By Prescribing Measures Against Undue Price Increases During Emergency Situations And Like Occasions”, the DTI has the authority to issue SRP of basic necessities and prime commodities.

The current practice is that the manufacturers are required to send the list of SRPs of their select products to DTI for regular monitoring. And in case of requests for price adjustments, the DTI reviews them to determine the reasonable rate of increase prior to their approval.

Under this order, the manufacturers are required to send the list of SRPs of their select products to DTI for regular monitoring. For any price adjustment, the manufacturer submits a request to DTI for review. The DTI determines the reasonable rate of increase prior to its approval of the request.

But with the proposed SRP scheme, there is no need for the manufacturers to seek for approval of their SRPs from the Department and allow market forces to dictate the price movements.

Secretary Lopez emphasizes, “The plan to deregulate the SRP is to address the issue of bureaucratic red tape of having the SRP undergo an approval process. However, the DTI will continue to closely monitor the movement of prices of products in the market to ensure that consumers will get the value of their hard-earned money”.

The proposal has gained acceptance from all members present during the meeting.

The NPCC has ordered the implementing agencies of the Price Act to issue specific individual guidelines in ensuring the availability of basic necessities and prime commodities at reasonable prices at all times without denying legitimate business a fair return on investment, within their own jurisdiction subject to existing laws and regulations.

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