FURTHER PRICE increases are expected in grocery items beyond the recent adjustments to the government’s price control scheme, known as the suggested retail price (SRP), the supermarkets association said.

The category of goods known as basic necessities and prime commodities (BNPC) will continue to increase in price over the rest of the year, according to Steven T. Cua, Philippine Amalgamated Supermarkets Association president.

In a mobile phone interview with BusinessWorld, Mr. Cua said: “I expect (price increases) to carry on until the rest of the year regardless of who wins as president and vice-president.”

According to Mr. Cua, BNPC prices are rising in line with the prices of imported raw materials.

“This is due to overdependence on imported raw materials, intermediate and finished goods. (We) can’t fix this overnight. It boils down to the lack of long-term planning and serious development of industries,” Mr. Cua said.

On May 11, the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) latest SRP notice raised prices on 82 BNPCs, while prices of 136 BNPCs held steady from levels prescribed in the SRP bulletin of Jan. 27.

The DTI said price increases for the 82 stock keeping units range from 2% to 10%. Approved for higher prices were bread, canned fish, potable water in bottles and containers, processed milk, locally manufactured instant noodles, coffee, salt, laundry soap, detergent, candles, flour, processed and canned pork, processed and canned beef, vinegar, fish sauce (patis), soy sauce, toilet soap, and batteries.

Mr. Cua said it is up to the next administration to address the rising prices of BNPCs.

“I’m afraid this time there’s nothing very much (consumers) can do. The ball is in the court of the new administration to avert runaway inflation, hyper-inflation and social unrest,” Mr. Cua said.

Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said in a radio interview on Sunday that the manufacturers are cautious in seeking price increases to maintain the competitiveness of their products.

Ang manufacturers, ayaw din itaas ng todo (ang presyo) kasi may competition. Lilipat ang mga consumer sa ibang brand or sa ibang produkto kapag tinaasan mo. Maingat din sila, (Manufacturers do not want the full measure of price increases because they might suffer competitively. Consumers might switch to other brands or alternate products if prices rise too much. They are cautious this way,”) Mr. Lopez said.

Mr. Lopez added that some manufacturers are selling their products below the SRP, and are treating the SRP as a maximum price. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave