BSP official questions viability of Kadiwa stores
CLARK FREEPORT, Pampanga, Philippines — Bruce Tolentino, a Monetary Board (MB) member, has raised concerns over the plan to expand the rollout of Kadiwa outlets nationwide, noting it is “politically easy” yet unsustainable.
Over the weekend, Tolentino said that, although it was easier to curry favor with voters by giving away “ayuda” or cash assistance, financing such an initiative is unviable in the long run. The MB is the policy-making body of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).
“It’s easy to give away, go to a town and have lots of ayuda … give away machines, seeds, money. It gives you votes. It’s quick acting but it’s usually not sustainable. It will only last until ayuda is available, including the Kadiwa [stores],” said Tolentino during the business journalism seminar organized by the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines and San Miguel Corp.
Tolentino, a former agricultural undersecretary, pointed out that putting up Kadiwa stores will cost money since the Department of Agriculture (DA) purchases food products at high prices but sells the same at discounted prices.
“How long can they keep those subsidies?” Tolentino said.
‘It is wasteful’
The Kadiwa project will benefit Filipino consumers in a depressed community or in the event of a disaster or emergency in the short term.“You can only keep it briefly. You can only keep it for a few weeks, a few months. It will cost [the] government money,” Tolentino told reporters.
“I think if we view the Kadiwa as a targeted, short-term assistance, it will be useful. If you view it as a long-term [intervention], it is wasteful,” he added.
President Marcos, concurrently serving as the country’s agriculture chief, has been expanding the Kadiwa stores in a move to address the steep prices of agricultural products and provide a ready market for farmers and fishers.
It is among his government’s strategies to manage food inflation and provide more income opportunities for farmers, fisherfolk, and micro, small, and medium enterprises.
Kadiwa, a market linkage facilitation program of the agency, has removed the middlemen in the trading cycle, meaning consumers can purchase food items at lower prices.
“We are doing our best to expand the Kadiwa stores until it reaches the far-flung areas so that our countrymen can feel a little respite from lower commodity prices,” Mr. Marcos said when he launched the Kadiwa ng Pangulo outlet in San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan.
The DA said earlier that about 931 farmers’ cooperatives and associations and agri-based enterprises have generated total sales of P2.38 billion since it started the Kadiwa project in 2019.