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DTI freezes prices of basic goods

By Abigail L. Ho
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 06:28:00 09/29/2009

Filed Under: Ondoy, Flood, Disasters & Accidents, Government, Trade (general), Consumer Issues

MANILA, Philippines?Profiteering businessmen, beware.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has placed a ceiling on all prices of basic commodities in supermarkets and wet markets to prevent unscrupulous business owners from taking advantage of the shortage of basic commodities in the wake of Storm ?Ondoy? (international codename: Ketsana).

During Monday?s emergency meeting of the National Price Coordinating Council, Trade Secretary Peter Favila said that apart from basic necessities, he would ask President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to freeze the prices of prime commodities, including batteries and construction materials.

Basic necessities, as defined in the Price Act, cover both agricultural goods and manufactured products that include rice, corn, bread, fresh, dried and canned fish and other marine products, fresh pork, beef and poultry meat, fresh eggs, fresh and processed milk, fresh vegetables, root crops, coffee, sugar, cooking oil, salt, laundry soap, detergents, firewood, charcoal, candles and drugs classified as essential by the Department of Health (DoH).

Prime commodities include fresh fruits, flour, dried processed and canned pork, beef and poultry meat, dairy products not falling under basic necessities, noodles, onions, garlic, vinegar, patis, soy sauce, toilet soap, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, poultry, swine and cattle feeds, veterinary products for poultry, swine and cattle, paper, school supplies, nipa shingles, sawali, cement, clinker, GI sheets, hollow blocks, plywood, plyboard, construction nails, batteries, electrical supplies, light bulbs, steel wire and all drugs not classified as essential drugs by the DoH.

Automatic price controls and price ceilings can be imposed on basic necessities in the event of a calamity or emergency, during times of war and rebellion, and if martial law is declared, according to Sections 6 and 7 of The Price Act.

With the price freeze in place, prices of canned sardines in tomato sauce are now pegged at P12 a can in wet markets and P11.40-P11.75 in supermarkets, condensed milk at P46-P52 in wet markets and P45-P51 in supermarkets, evaporated milk at P33-P44 in wet markets and P32.50-P43.50 in supermarkets, and powdered milk at P41-P70 in wet markets and P41-P68.70 in supermarkets.

Coffee refills now go for P14-P35 a pack in wet markets and P14.60-P35.30 in supermarkets, instant noodles for P6-P6.50 in wet markets and P5.70-P6.50 in supermarkets, laundry soap for P19-P23.95 in wet markets and P18.50-P23.95 in supermarkets, and bath or toilet soap for P26.50-P30 in wet markets and P27-P30.25 in supermarkets.

Regular milled commercial rice should now sell for just P30 a kilo, well-milled commercial rice for P35 a kilo, and premium commercial rice for P40 a kilo, all in wet markets. Pork liempo should be priced no more than P170 a kilo, whole chicken P130 a kilo, refined sugar P38 a kilo, brown sugar P30 a kilo and cooking oil P18 for a lapad (flat) bottle, all in wet markets.

Prices of canned goods remain pegged: Luncheon meat sells for P25-P60 in wet markets and P27.95-P29.95 in supermarkets, corned beef at P22-P48 in wet markets and P23.95-P44.95 in supermarkets, meat loaf at P18 in wet markets and P16.25-P16.75 in supermarkets, and beef loaf for P17-P26 in wet markets and P15.90-P24.40 in supermarkets.

Prices depend on brand and size or volume, but have been frozen at prevailing retail prices prior to the declaration of a state of calamity in Metro Manila and other areas all over the country.

?Retailers are warned to observe the price freeze in all brands of said commodities to avoid sanctions?a maximum of 10 years imprisonment and a fine of P1 million,? the DTI said.

Favila said there was really no need to raise prices, especially in this time of crisis.

?We have been given assurance by supermarkets that there is adequate and stable supply of basic goods, and for that reason, we see no basis for price increases. The problem we face today is with respect to logistics,? he said during Monday?s meeting.

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