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DTI thumbs down appeal to cede control over SRP

Trade Undersecretary Teodoro Pascua said the DTI would continue to review and determine the reasonableness of any price adjustment manufacturers are planning to implement. File

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has rejected an appeal to drop its directive handing over to manufacturers the control of setting and fixing suggested retail prices (SRPs) of basic necessities.

In a letter in response to an appeal by consumer advocacy group Laban Konsyumer Inc.,  Trade Undersecretary Teodoro Pascua said the DTI would continue to review and determine the reasonableness of any price adjustment manufacturers are planning to implement.

 “While the practice for pre-approval is to be removed under the Department Administrative Order on the implementation of SRPs of basic necessities and prime commodities, manufacturers will still be required to submit updated SRPs of manufactured basic necessities and prime commodities and notify DTI Consumer Protection and Advocacy Bureau of any adjustments at least one month for price increase and 10 days for price reduction prior to its implementation date,” Pascua said.

Consumer advocacy group Laban Konsyumer Inc. had earlier warned the DTI of possible legal action should the agency pursue its plan to abandon the pre-approval of the manufacturers’ SRP.

The group, led by former trade undersecretary Victorio Dimagiba, said the DTI is abdicating its legal duty to conduct a prior review of   manufacturers’ SRPs of basic necessities and prime commodities which assure consumers that prices are generally stable and reasonable.

Pascua said the DTI would issue and disseminate the SRPs submitted by manufacturers for the information and guidance of producers, manufacturers, traders and consumers.

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Meanwhile, the DTI has likewise denied the consumer group’s earlier appeal to extend the effectivity of the price freeze on basic goods in Mindanao until the end of the year.

Pascua said the National Price Coordinating Council in a meeting early this month found no economic threat that warrant a price control mechanism following the reports of the DTI, Department of Agriculture, Department of Health and food manufacturers that price and supply situation in Mindanao are stable.

“Thus, it was agreed that the council will not recommend to the President any extension of price control or price freeze as clearly stated in the Price Act and rather maintain a modified SRP system,” Pascua said.

A price freeze on basic necessities and prime commodities was automatically enforced in Mindanao after President Duterte declared martial law. 

The DTI said the implementation of the price freeze, as stated in the Price Act, cannot be extended as the automatic price control shall only last for 60 days even though the ground on which it is based is still existing.

Earlier, calls have been made to extend the effectivity of the price freeze on basic goods in Mindanao until the end of the year to ensure there will be no profiteering and hoarding.

 “The DTI assures the public that the prices and supply of basic necessities and prime commodities in Mindanao will be closely monitored and any increases will be immediately acted upon,” Pascua said.

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