To address the current issue on rice stocks and prices, the government will continue to import rice until the next harvest season. In the meeting of the Committee on Tariff and Related Matters (CTRM) held last month, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), together with the Department of Agriculture (DA) and other member-agencies, proposed supply-side interventions such as import volume enhancement to further minimize the effects of inflation and to lower prices of agricultural commodities, especially rice.

With the marching order of the President to fill up government warehouses with supply of rice to prevent shortage and price increases, the National Food Authority (NFA) imported 700,000 metric tons (MT) of rice, 300,000 MT of which had already been unloaded and distributed. The NFA Council also approved the importation of 133,500 MT of rice to be distributed to Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and Zamboanga to bring down the prices in the said provinces.

Parallel to the efforts being done by the NFA Council on the rice situation in the country, the DTI has started assisting the DA and NFA by including rice and other agricultural products in its price monitoring activities. In its rounds within Metro Manila, the DTI observed ample supply of NFA rice at its authorized dealers.

To further understand the agricultural supply chain, farm gate prices, and reasonable profit margin for retailers, the DTI convened meetings with the United Broilers Raisers Association (UBRA) and Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines, Inc. (ProPork). The DTI and DA is set to announce the farm gate prices for consumers to better determine the reasonable retail price of agricultural products.

Addressing inflationary effects

The DTI is also implementing mitigating measures to cushion inflationary effects on the prices of manufactured basic necessities and prime commodities. The Department intensified its price monitoring efforts, expanding its coverage from 400 to 600 firms in NCR, and additional 500 firms in the regions and provinces. When monitored firms are found to be selling above the SRPs, Letters of Inquiry (LOI) are issued to them by DTI’s monitors on the ground. To date, the Department already issued LOIs to 127 firms nationwide.

To provide consumers with wider choices of reasonably-priced basic and prime goods, the DTI also expanded the Suggested Retail Price (SRP) list from 162 to 241 Shelf Keeping Units (SKUs) or product variants. 3-in-1 coffee and salt which used to have no SRP are now included in the list. The latest SRPs dated 01 September 2018 remain in effect for the next three months, or until 01 December 2018, following manufacturers’ consideration of DTI’s appeal for price increase hold-off.

Further, the DTI had requested the manufacturers of non-agricultural basic and prime goods to saturate the market with non-premium brands to provide consumers with more choices of lower-end SKUs.
The DTI is now including the sari-sari stores as consumers’ source for reasonably-priced basic and prime goods through the DTI Suking Tindahan Program that was launched last 15 August 2018. The key element of the program is the linkage of the recognized Suking Tindahan to the authorized distributors of manufacturers of basic and prime goods. This ensures that sari-sari stores are able to sell basic and prime goods within or below the SRPs.

The program is open to major sari-sari stores, wholesalers, and cooperatives. To qualify, the store or cooperatives must be a fully-registered business that is in existence for at least one (1) year with a minimum financial capitalization of Php 100,000.00. The first set of recognized Suking Tindahan are Noel & Jenny Sari-Sari Store, Francing Store, Lacson Grocery in Marikina City; Bea Brain Josh Store and Ingrid Store in Quezon City; Edison Sari-Sari Store in Navotas City; Centennial Village Multi-Purposes Coop in Taguig and Four E General Merchandise in Manila.
The DTI, DA, NFA, and other relevant government agencies vow to act jointly toward a common goal of protecting the welfare of consumers by ensuring steady supply and reasonable prices of goods in the market.♦

Date of Release: 7 September 2018