Gov’t to regulate prices of rice, fish, veggies
The Department of Agriculture (DA) will impose a suggested retail price (SRP) for basic agricultural goods starting next week as a means to protect consumers from alleged “profiteering” by some retailers and traders.
Despite stable farm-gate prices for commodities such as rice, fish and vegetables, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said retail prices had been increasing “abnormally,” prompting the DA and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to start setting SRPs.
In an interview on Wednesday, Piñol said they would start with the “easiest commodities to cover” including rice, selected fish varieties such as black carp (tilapia), milkfish (bangus) and round scad (galunggong), and vegetables like eggplant and cabbage.
Piñol held a meeting with industry stakeholders last month to determine the best price points for the said commodities. Aside from production costs, other factors that would determine the SRP include transportation costs and the effect of the new tax law.
For rice varieties, the secretary said prices for regular-milled rice should not go beyond P39 a kilo while well-milled rice should not go beyond P42 a kilo. Price for fancy rice varieties, meanwhile, would not be regulated.
Price points for fish and vegetables would also be regulated by next week, although the secretary did not give specific figures.
SRPs for poultry products have yet to be determined by the agency. Piñol said a second round of meeting with industry stakeholders would be held next week since members of the poultry subsector have yet to agree on the imposition of SRPs on products such as broiler chickens and eggs.
Piñol said both the DA and DTI would go around markets to monitor prices. Violators may be sentenced to jail for five to 15 years and may pay fines between P5,000 and P1 million, in accordance with the antiprofiteering law.
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