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Gov’t prepares aid to traders, retailers affected by price ceiling on rice

(File Photo)

QUEZON CITY, (PIA) – The national government bared its plan to provide an assistance program for small-scale rice traders and retailers affected by the issuance of Executive Order (EO) No. 39 or the mandated price ceiling on rice. 

“Small traders who bought their stocks at higher prices are expected to lose money, and the government is looking at possible support that can be extended to them so they could avoid bankruptcy,” the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) wrote. 

On Saturday, September 2, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Assistant Secretary Agaton Uvero conveyed the commitment of the department and other key implementing agencies to keep the industry afloat while rice prices stabilize. 

“Iyong lead agencies naman dito, LGUs and DILG tapos DA, DTI. Pagdating sa pagtulong sa maliliit na negosyante DTI parati naman iyong lead agency diyan eh, so may mga pinag-uusapan na subsidies [The lead agencies here (in the imposition of price ceiling) are LGUs, DILG as well as the DA and DTI. In terms of assisting small business owners, DTI is the lead agency, so there are subsidies in the talks],” Uvero pointed out in view of the DTI’s mandate to help micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). 

The DTI also seeks the support of traders and retailers in the imposition of EO 39 for the greater benefit of consumers, especially those who lack access to the prime commodity. 

“Una, sa pangangalakal marami ang kumikita kapag tuloy-tuloy na tumataas ang presyo. So, marami sa kanila nag-windfall na; pangalawa, ganoon man, hinihingi ng pamahalaan iyong sakripisyo ng mga retailers na medyo tumulong din sila sa mga mamamayan, sa nakakarami (First, in trade, many will benefit from the continuous price increase. Many of them are already getting a windfall. Secondly, despite that, the government is asking for the sacrifice of retailers in the interest of the general public),” Uvero added. 

In light of the expected arrival of parallel rice imports and the upcoming start of the harvest season, the DTI is optimistic about the stability of rice supplies in the country.

Meanwhile, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) highlighted the timely imposition of the EO 39 to address issues related to artificial rice shortage brought about by illegal activities such as hoarding and smuggling in addition to the impacts of climate change on the agriculture sector. 

“We are facing difficult times, and concerning the agriculture sector, the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon is a major disruptor. The ENSO has intensified the Southwest Monsoon and is expected to result in below-normal rainfall towards the end of the year in many countries along the Pacific,” NEDA stated. 

“We are confident that the imposition of a price ceiling is only a temporary measure. We expect rice harvest to commence soon and anticipate that other initiatives will produce the desired result,” it added. 

The DTI and the DA will be jointly conducting inspections in public and private markets to oversee the compliance of retailers with the order. 

In line with the Republic Act No. 7581 or the Price Act, retailers who will violate the mandated price ceiling on rice are subjected to the penalty of imprisonment for a period of not less than one  (1) year and a fine of P5,000 to P1,000,000. 

On the other hand, those who are caught manipulating the prices of rice will also face a penalty of imprisonment for a period of not less than five (5) years and a fine of P5,000 to P2,000,000. 

The mandated price ceiling is set to take effect Tuesday, September 5. (PCO/PIA-NCR) 

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Janna Marie Pineda

Information Officer


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