Imports eyed to address spikes in commodity prices
The unreasonable and excessive price increases of basic and prime commodities in the markets have prompted the government to allow local price coordinating councils (LPCCs) to import, but Agriculture Secretary William Dar stressed that it would be as a “last resort.”
A joint memorandum circular was signed by the department heads of agriculture, trade and industry, health, environment, and interior and local government on Friday strengthening the role of LPCCs in the market’s supply-and-demand situation.
Under the memorandum, the implementing agencies should allocate a buffer fund to be used “exclusively to procure, purchase, import or stockpile any basic necessity or prime commodity… [which] shall be distributed for sale in areas where there is a shortage of supply or where there is a need to effect changes in the prevailing prices.”
The order came a day after the agriculture chief said importation would be the agency’s last resort to fix supply and price constraints and followed a loud clamor from industry stakeholders for the government to limit and manage imports, especially of agricultural goods.
According to Agriculture Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan, LPCCs could recommend the importation of certain commodities, which would be handled by Philippine International Trading Corp., a state trading company under the Department of Trade and Industry.
LPCCs of local government units may now also help implement the suggested retail price scheme, which means they have the power to issue warnings and apprehend offenders, including those who sell online.
Industry groups representing rice, livestock, poultry and other crops have rallied behind a single call for the Department of Agriculture to manage the entry of imports, noting how difficult it was for local producers to compete with outsourced commodities.
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