AUGUST 29, 2018 - 3 MONTH PRICE FREEZE FOR BASIC GOODS-SUSPENSION OF SPECIAL DUTY ON ONION, CHICKEN IMPORTS APPROVED; NFA ABOLITION EYED
RICE LINE – A line forms at an NFA stall in Commonwealth Market in Quezon City Tuesday. Calls for the abolition of the grains agency were raised following the rice shortage in Zamboanga City and the weevil- ridden rice shipment that arrived at the Subic Freeport recently. The government likewise approved five measures, including the suspension of special safeguard duty on onion and chicken imports and close monitoring of government rice importation and distribution, to mitigate the impact of soaring inflation. At the Senate, Senator Cynthia Villar said she is set to sponsor for plenary deliberations the measure on rice tariffication which, in effect, may eventually lead to the abolition of the National Food Authority (NFA). DTI Undersecretary for Consumer Protection Group Ruth Castelo said they have already met with BNPC manufacturers, representing the 235 items listed in the expanded suggested retail price (SRP), where they requested and appealed to their social responsibility to stop increasing their prices in the next three months or until December 30 this year. She, however, said this is “not a moratorium” because government does not have the power to do that under the Price Act. Given the choice, Castelo said they would have preferred the manufacturers to agree to hold off SRP price increases until the first quarter of next year. It was recalled that consumer advocacy group Laban Konsyumer, Inc. (LKI) strongly urged the DTI to implement a moratorium on price increases ọn items listed in the expanded SRP until the end of the first quarter of 2019. So far, Castelo said they got a firmer commitment from manufacturers for coffee, noodles, laundry and bath soap, soy sauce, patis (fish sauce), vinegar, and bread candles against movement in prices in the coming months. But canned sardines and meat manufacturers have no commitment yet.