GOVERNMENT agencies have reactivated a price coordination council to monitor prices of basic commodities in Metro Manila and other urban areas during the COVID-19 lockdown.

According to joint Memorandum Circular No. 77, Local Price Coordination Councils (LPCCs) were reactivated by the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and Department of Health (DoH), which will monitor prices of agricultural goods, processed products, and medicine.

“The reactivation of LPCCs was one of the measures approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) to monitor and forestall the excessive and unreasonable price spikes of agri-fishery commodities, processed products and medicines,” Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said.

The LPCCs also aid in the implementation of the suggested retail prices (SRPs) of basic food commodities, issue warnings, and apprehend violators, including Internet and social media sellers.

LPCCs is authorized by Republic Act (RA 7581) or the Price Act.

“Our aim is to protect consumers against undue price spikes as the nation is under a state of emergency due to the spread of COVID-19,” Mr. Dar said.

The DA reported that the average retail prices of selected agri-fishery commodities and domestically-grown and imported rice declined between March 9 and 21.

The average retail price of well-milled imported rice was P41 per kilogram, while regular-milled rice was P39.

The retail price of domestically-grown commercial rice varies from P40 per kg for well-milled and P31 per kilo for regular-milled.

“This week, we expect prices to start settling at reasonable and affordable levels as the transport of food and other cargoes, including the movement of farmers, fishers, food logistics providers, and food processing workers begin to improve, with the cooperation of the PNP and AFP, particularly barangay officials manning the enhanced community quarantine checkpoints,” Mr. Dar said.

Meanwhile, the DA and DTI caught vendors violating the SRP scheme at Farmers’ Market in Cubao, Quezon City Thursday.

DTI will send a “Notice of Violation” to the vendors, and if they fail to act accordingly within 48 hours upon receipt of the notice, their respective stalls will be closed.

Mr. Dar appealed to suppliers and retailers to keep prices of their goods within the SRP and comply with the rules set by the government.

“We currently impose an SRP for nine food commodities, and we are analyzing the price monitoring data we have collected for the entire country in the last three months to serve as (a) basis to expand the list, if warranted,” Mr. Dar said.

The updated price bulletins will be given to the LPCCs, retailers, suppliers, and market masters, which must be displayed at prominent areas in public markets. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave