Proposed P20/kilo rice ‘possible’ but needs study, says DTI

The campaign promise of presumptive president Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to reduce retail prices of rice to P20 to P30 is “possible” but needs careful study, an official of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said Monday.

“Puwede po sigurong pag-aralan then it’s posible na maibaba rin natin ang presyo (Maybe we can study it then it’s possible that we can lower the prices),” DTI Undersecretary Ruth Castelo said in an interview on Balitanghali.

“I remember noong 2018 pinag-aralan natin ang presyo ng bigas nakapagbigay tayo ng P35 na presyong rasonable dapat. It was upon the initiative of DTI with the help of DA but at that time, masyadong maliit ang panahon namin, nagmamadali kami para mabigyan ng tamang presyo ang consumers so P35,” she said.

(I remember in 2018, we studied rice prices and we set it at P35. It was upon the initiative of DTI with the help of DA but at that time, our time was too short. We’re moving fast to give proper prices so it was at P35.)

“Baka ito pwede pa rin kung talagang pag-aaralan pa natin nang husto paano siya mapapababa (Maybe we can do it again if we will thoroughly study how we can lower the prices),” she added.

Latest data available from the Department of Agriculture (DA) show that local commercial rice prices in Metro Manila range from P38 to P50 per kilogram, and imported commercial rice prices from P37.00 to P52.00 as of April 13, depending on the variety.

Marcos previously said he would recommend a price cap on rice and mandate government agencies to serve as middlemen in the procurement of harvests under his administration.

DTI’s stance echoes the remarks of Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua who earlier agreed Marcos’ campaign promise is possible but “might be a problem” if the support for farmers comes in the form of subsidy that does not tie to outputs.

“If we are going to use taxpayers’ money solely to subsidize without conditions and without any productivity measures, then that’s a bad idea,” said Chua.

DTI preparing for transition

Castelo, meanwhile, said Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez is now preparing for the transition of the department to its next leaders under the incoming administration.

She also hoped the new government will continue pushing for the measures the DTI is trying to strengthen including the amendment of the Consumer and Price Act.

“Sec. Lopez would also want this to happen kaya sana siguro in the first session of Congress sa tulong ng new administration sana matapos ang revision,” she said.

(Sec. Lopez would also want this to happen. That’s why we’re hoping in the first session of Congress, with the help of the new administration, the revision will be finished.)–AOL, GMA News

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