Gov’t setting price guide for select farm items in Metro Manila

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THE GOVERNMENT is setting suggested retail prices (SRPs) for select agricultural products sold in Metro Manila in response to consumer concerns, officials said on Friday.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said in a news conference in Quezon City that SRPs will initially apply to eight agricultural items and may be imposed on more products like livestock and poultry in the next two months.

The SRPs, as recommended by the retailers, are P39 per kilogram (/kg) for regular-milled rice, P70/kg for imported garlic, P75/kg for white onion, P95/kg for red onion, P120/kg for locally grown garlic, P100/kg for tilapia, P140/kg for galunggong and P150/kg for milkfish.

The price guides take effect as soon as Mr. Piñol signs the department order on Monday.

“This is going to be applicable only to Metro Manila,” Mr. Piñol said. “It was agreed that for all other regional markets there will be different standards for SRP given the fact that some commodities may be more available in other markets.”

“It was also agreed that the SRP will not be a constant figure. It will be adjusted as we move along,” Mr. Pinol added, noting that the SRPs will be reviewed every other week.

Asked for further explanation, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said in a Viber message that the new SRP — currently applied only to items like canned goods, condiments, batteries, candles and toilet soap — may be “necessary during these times… when there seems to be claims from consumers that prices are rising.”

Asked why the list did not include other produce, Mr. Piñol said retailers had noted that prices of other items are “masyadong maggalaw (too volatile)”.

An SRP provides a guide to help ensure that retailers do not unduly increase prices. Those that exceed the SRP are not immediately penalized but are asked by the Trade department to explain their prices.

“We will be watchful of its effect on farmers and fishermen who produce the commodities, because while we want to protect consumers, we also are mindful or the fact that an SRP may be used by the traders in the market to lower the buying price of farmers and fishermen’s produce,” Mr. Piñol said. — Janina C. Lim