President urged to control prices | Inquirer Business

President urged to control prices

By: - Reporter / @deejayapINQ
/ 03:20 AM July 05, 2014

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares  and President Benigno Aquino III.  INQUIRER FILE PHOTOS

A lawmaker on Friday petitioned President Benigno Aquino III to impose a price ceiling on rice, garlic and other basic commodities in response to the grossly inflated prices of such goods purportedly due to hoarding and price manipulation.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares asked Mr. Aquino to impose a ceiling on the price of rice and garlic, as well as other prime commodities, in accordance with the provisions of the Price Act, particularly Section 7.


Under that provision, the President, upon the recommendation of the National Price Coordinating Council (NPCC), may impose a price ceiling on basic commodities in the event of a calamity, emergency, widespread price manipulation and other conditions that have caused unreasonable price increases.

Farmers not beneficiaries


In his petition, Colmenares noted the spiraling price of commercial rice, from an average of P30 to P35 per kilogram in mid-2013 to P38 to P50 per kilo in 2014.

“While farm gate prices remain at P18 to P21 per kilo, which means farmers are not even beneficiaries of this increase, the opportunistic rice traders jacked up the price in the market. Therefore, from the previous P35 per kilo for commercial rice in 2013, the current price ranges from P40 to P44 per kilo,” he said.

Skyrocketing prices have also been seen in the case of garlic, which now sells for P400 per kilo from a farm gate price of only P60 per kilo, as well as ginger, chicken, pork, eggs and milk, Colmenares said.

Shocking increases

“In the provinces, the same shocking price increases were recorded,” he said, noting that the expected onset of El Niño in July or August could further jack up prices.

Colmenares said the increases could not be blamed on mere lack of supply during lean months, as publicly declared by the government.

“The government, which has initially justified the price increases as ‘normal’ and resulting from lean months, is now forced to admit that hoarders may be manipulating the price,” he said.


Focus on hoarders

Colmenares, the senior deputy minority leader in the House of Representatives, said such an intervention must direct focus on traders or hoarders who sell their products at inordinately high prices, to the detriment of consumers, farmers and retailers.

“To ensure that the price ceiling ultimately protects the consumers, we pray that the executive should take a more active step to prevent hoarding through more effective monitoring, pursue a relentless drive to identify the hoarders, prosecute them and dismantle monopolies or cartels,” he said.

He also asked the NPCC to impose a suggested retail price (SRP) pending the resolution of his petition.

Under the Price Act, while only the President can impose a price ceiling, the NPCC has the power to impose an SRP on commodities.

Immediate relief needed

“While a price ceiling, which immediately penalizes a violator with a maximum of 10 years imprisonment, has more teeth than a ‘suggested’ retail price, we have to ask for immediate relief from the NPCC since we do not know how long it will take for President Aquino to intervene or whether he would even grant our petition,” he said.

In a public hearing by the House committees on food security and agriculture and food on Tuesday, Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization Francis Pangilinan said he supported moves to implement an SRP on agricultural commodities, but the proposal to impose a price ceiling still needed study.

Originally posted: 6:35 pm | Friday, July 4th, 2014


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