THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is planning to come up with a suggested retail price (SRP) on imported rice as authorities believe retail prices should have gone down further with the Rice Tariffication law in place which allowed the unhampered importation of the commodity.
“Kapag marami na ang [imported] bigas, pag-aaralan natin kung puwede tayo magpataw ng SRP,” Trade secretary Ramon Lopez said in an interview on Saturday.
“Pinag-aaralan kung magkano ang imported price at magkano ‘yung lumalabas sa palengke para ‘pag imported rice ganito dapat ang presyuhan niyan,” Lopez said.
During the Department of Agriculture’s price monitoring at the Commonwealth Market in Quezon City it was found that certain well-milled varieties were selling up to P45 per kilo.
“Ang inaasahan po namin mas marami ng nagtitinda ng P34-P37 pesos na bigas,” Lopez said.
“Mas gusto natin mas marami ang magbenta ng ganoong presyo ng commercial rice. Mas pangkaraniwan,” he said.
The Cabinet official said retail prices of rice has not gone down as expected because several importers are not yet releasing their stocks in the market.
“Kaya siguro ganito ang presyo dahil hindi pa nilalabas lahat ng in-import na bigas,” Lopez said.
The DA said Friday it is now looking at a list of traders suspected of “manipulating” the release of imported rice in the market.
The farmgate price of palay has plunged to as low as P7 per kilo after rice tariffication was implemented earlier this year, prompting farmers to ask for government intervention.
After the Rice Tariffication law was passed in February, up to 2.4 million metric tons of imported rice entered the country, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said.
But not all of the imported volume was released into the market. “We have more to see out,” Dar said.
The Rice Tariffication law removed the quantitative restrictions on rice and imposed a 35 percent tariff on imports from Southeast Asian neighbors.
The law created a Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund, amounting to P10 billion, as a safety net for local farmers.
The fund is supposed to equip farmers with better tools, seeds, and other interventions to improve productivity. (GMA News)