THE NATIONAL Price Coordinating Council (NPCC) said its views were solicited on a proposal to build up a 10-day reserve of key agricultural products, according to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

DTI Consumer Protection Group Assistant Secretary Amanda F. Nograles said that the Department of Agriculture (DA) floated draft Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for the Price Act covering the building up of commod-ity reserves at an NPCC meeting Monday.

“(During the meeting) we were able to point out that the target for the buffer stocks are onion, pork, and fertilizers,” Ms. Nograles said, in addition to rice, corn and sugar.

“The goal of this, in addition to creating a market-based mechanism to decrease the price by increasing the supply, is to deter hoarders and those who are engaged in illegal price manipulation,” she added.

She said that this will be the first time that the government will invoke the provision on buffer stocks since the Price Act was implemented.

Trade Undersecretary Jose Edgardo G. Sunico said that the plan is to maintain a reserve equivalent to 10 days of consumption.

“This will be enough to address problems when it comes to stabilizing our prices, and we will also coordinate with the private sector to ensure that the 10 days worth of inventory will have storage, whether that’s warehousing or cold storage,” Mr. Sunico said.

Ms. Nograles said that the IRR is currently unsigned since the members of the NPCC were only asked to comment on the draft.

“So far, there is still no indication when it will be signed or when it will be made effective. However, under Section 9 of the Price Act, there is no provision that says that there is a need to create an IRR,” she said.

“The IRR merely provides guidelines on how it will be implemented. So, we defer to the DA on their timelines and their official position as to whether they will wait to issue the IRR or actually enforce the rules,” she added.

She also said that the DA will also determine the volumes held in reserve,.

“The (Philippine Statistics Authority) doesn’t estimate the daily requirements, so we do not have a basis, but the IRR provides for a maximum of 10 days of buffer stock,” she added.

However, Ms. Nograles said that the government will need additional funding to build up the reserves as it is not provided for in the General Appropriations Act. — Justine Irish DP Tabile