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60-day price freeze covers agri products, basic goods, meds

/ 05:40 AM March 20, 2020

Government agencies have resolved to impose a price freeze on basic goods following President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of a nationwide state of calamity prompted by the spread of the new coronavirus, Malacañang said on Wednesday night.

“The price freeze covering basic necessities is being done to ensure that food and essential goods remain affordable to all. It is also being done to ensure that no one takes advantage of anyone,” Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said at a press briefing.

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A joint memorandum by the health, trade and agriculture departments sets the moratorium on price increases in place for the next 60 days.

The Palace also urged the public to help ensure the stability of prices even as it vowed to monitor retailers and be on the lookout for profiteering and hoarding.

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“We are in the middle of a crisis. This is a challenge we can surpass if we will help one another. Nonetheless, we won’t allow anyone to take advantage of the crisis to profit from the people. There will be no taking advantage of others at this time,” Nograles said.

The price freeze covers agricultural products, basic goods, food items and medicines.

Expanding SRP

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea had earlier issued Memorandum Circular No. 77 directing all government agencies and local governments to implement and ensure compliance with the price control measures on essential medicines and supplies, as well as agriculture and fishery items.

The Department of Agriculture is considering expanding the imposition of suggested retail prices (SRPs) for agricultural commodities in line with the implementation of the price freeze.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the agency was firming up recommendations for an expanded SRP, which currently covers nine food items on a per kilogram basis—pork (P190), chicken (P130), sugar (P45), cage-cultured bangus (P162), pond-cultured tilapia (P120), imported galunggong (P130), imported garlic (P70), local garlic (P120), and imported red onion (P95).

Dar said the expanded SRP would be taken up with the National Price Coordinating Council “in due time.”

The Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (Pampi) assured the public of adequate supply of canned meat products.

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In a statement on Wednesday, Pampi vice president Jerome Ong said the current inventory of canned meat was good for 60 days based on normal demand, but this could be depleted faster if hoarding occurred.

Pampi’s 85 members include some of the largest companies in the processing industry, such as Mekeni Food Corp., Pampanga’s Best Inc., and Century Food Pacific Inc. Ong is also president of CDO-Foodsphere Inc.

“We fully understand that checkpoints are strictly enforced to reduce people in the streets, but workers in the manufacturing sector must be given exceptions, just like the health workers in the front line,” Pampi said in a statement. —REPORTS FROM JULIE M. AURELIO AND KARL R. OCAMPO

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TAGS: Basic goods, Coronavirus, coronavirus disease, COVID-19, Nograles, price freeze, SRP
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