‘Govt ready to lift rice price cap’

(UPDATE) THE government is ready to lift the price ceiling on rice, an official of the Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Tuesday, citing a decrease in the prices of the staple in the market and the expected increase in supply during the harvest this month.

This came after the DA and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) recommended lifting the mandatory rice price ceiling during a sectoral meeting with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in Malacanang on Tuesday morning.

DA-Bureau of Plant Industry Director Gerald Glenn Panganiban. Photo from PCO

DA-Bureau of Plant Industry Director Gerald Glenn Panganiban. Photo from PCO

At a Palace press briefing, DA-Bureau of Plant Industry Director Gerald Glenn Panganiban said there were several indicators for lifting the price cap, including the decreasing rice prices in local markets during the implementation of the price ceiling in the country.

“That’s the indication. From our parameter naman, mukhang ready na (it seems we are ready). But of course, it’s all upon the President to decide on it,” Panganiban told reporters.

“We mentioned that the price cap is just temporary. It was done to really arrest the increasing prices that time that it defied the logic we have the supply,” he said.

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Panganiban noted “favorable” external factors that have been reported in the export prices of rice in the global market.

“Since we already have those indicators ready, I cannot say the duration, but the indications point to that. We will just keep you updated as soon as there will be a decision,” he said.

Marcos, who currently serves as the country’s Agriculture chief, signed Executive Order (EO) 39 on September 5, setting price caps on regular and well-milled rice in the whole country.

Under the EO, the mandated price cap for regular milled rice is P41 per kilogram, while the mandated price ceiling for well-milled rice is P45.00 per kilogram.

Panganiban said around “80 to 90 percent” of rice retailers have complied with the implementation of the mandated price ceilings.

He also said the government is expecting almost 1.9 million metric tons of rice for October, which will last up to 74 days.

“The public can expect that we will have a stable supply of our main staple,” the DA official said.

Records would show that the supply of rice in the market is equivalent to 52 days by end of September. By end of October, with the harvest in full swing, the supply will be equivalent to 74 days.

When asked if there were other conditions the government needed to achieve before Marcos could lift the mandatory price ceilings on rice, Panganiban said, “There are other indicators that may be considered. So, let us just wait for this decision.”

He added that the DA is also open to the alternative measures the economic managers would propose and that the department was focused on increasing the rice supply to stabilize the prices of the staple.

“So that’s about it, and we are expected that the DA and the DTI to have collaborations in order to further monitor and survey the prices so that [they]will not again increase drastically,” he said.

“So, that’s what we are doing, and we are working with all agencies of the government — not only the DA but also the DTI and DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) to implement whatever measures and guidelines we can do so that the consumers and, of course, our stakeholders, the farmers, who also benefited [from this],” he added.

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