SOME 33 grocery items are currently the subject of requests for price increases, with manufacturers mainly citing the surge in fuel prices, according to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). 

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said the DTI is currently reviewing applications, which cover a range of products that include canned food and milk.

“Actually, we have received requests for (price) adjustments and we are reviewing them. I think around 33 products. These include (canned) sardines, milk, and… canned meat loaf,” Mr. Lopez said in a radio interview on Sunday.

Mr. Lopez said the latest suggested retail price (SRP) list is still in force for basic necessities and prime commodities (BNPC).

He added that the manufacturers of BNPC goods need to obtain the DTI’s approval before increasing their prices.

“They need to prove that the cost of these products has increased. Aside from oil, we are also computing the price of raw materials used for production,” Mr. Lopez said.

On Jan. 27, the DTI released the latest SRP list which maintained prices for 66% of the 216 stock keeping units tracked under the scheme. Prices were raised for the remainder due to higher production costs.

Last week, the prices of gasoline, diesel, and kerosene products fell P5.45, P11.45, and P8.55 per liter, respectively. The price reduction ended a run of 11 weeks of steadily increasing pump prices. Since the start of 2022, prices of products have risen by P14.9 per liter for gasoline, P19.2 for diesel and P16.3 for kerosene. 

Separately Mr. Lopez said he saw no need to declare Alert Level 0, noting that the economy is effectively open.

He added that the wearing of face masks should remain to avoid a surge in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.

“We do not need Alert Level 0 since the economy is totally open. In fact, we are already pushing face-to-face arrangements. We are encouraging employees to be physically present in their offices so that the establishments nearby will also benefit,” Mr. Lopez said.

“I think Alert Level 1 will be implemented until the end of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s term,” he added, referring to the quarantine setting currently in force which permits 100% capacity at most businesses, provided safety measures are observed. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave