THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said the lifting of the retail price ceiling on rice is being given “serious consideration” following an analysis issued by government economic planners, with a decision possibly coming at a Palace meeting next week.

“We have a scheduled meeting to talk about it next week,” Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual told reporters at the Make It Happen in the Philippines Reception Thursday.

“There is already a paper to be the basis of the decision, let’s put it that way. It was made by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), in consultation with us,” he added.

On September 11, Mr. Pascual said he expected a review of the price controls on regular-milled and well-milled rice in two weeks.

Ask if he will recommend the lifting of the price controls, he said: “There is serious consideration for lifting… soon.”

“We are going to talk about this, it will be a collegial decision,” he added.

On Aug. 31, Mr. Marcos signed Executive Order (EO) 39 which imposed price ceilings on regular-milled and well-milled rice.

Under EO 39, the price ceiling for regular-milled rice was set at P41 per kilogram, while well-milled rice was capped at P45.

Mr. Pascual said that the department is satisfied with the compliance shown by rice retailers after the order was issued.

“It shows that the retailers are prepared to abide by the mandated price ceiling,” he said.

The DTI and other agencies have been disbursing cash aid to small rice retailers who may have been caught out by the price controls. 

Mr. Pascual said the Department of Social Welfare and Development Sustainable Livelihood Program distributed P69 million worth of cash assistance as of Wednesday.

“This is continuing. We have a big list but it is being culled because some of the retailers listed are (no longer operating),” he said.

“The most reliable source is the Business Permits and Licensing Office of the local government units, because every year the businesses register there,” he said. — Justine Irish D. Tabile