DSWD to provide aid to small traders affected by cap on rice prices

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DSWD to provide aid to small traders affected by cap on rice prices
Rice dealers display rice and their prices at Trabajo Market in Sampaloc, Manila on August 10, 2023.
The STAR / Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Social Welfare and Development will provide cash assistance to small rice retailers who will be affected by the imposition of a cap on rice prices, its chief said Tuesday. 

The price ceiling, which takes effect Tuesday, aims to reduce the retail prices of the staple item and penalize hoarding. But agricultural groups and economists said the price control could hurt farmers and traders. 

DSWD chief Rex Gatchalian said the agency will utilize its sustainable livelihood program to aid small rice traders and retailers. He said the financial assistance will be capped at P15,000 per retailer. 

DSWD is just waiting for a list of qualified retailers, which will be provided by the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Agriculture. 

“Hopefully, by next week, we can conduct a payout for the sustainable livelihood grant to our affected rice retailers,” Gatchalian told Teleradyo Serbisyo. 

Marcos, who also serves as the country’s agriculture chief, set the maximum retail price of regular milled rice at P41 per kilogram, and P45 for well-milled rice. 

The government said the imposition of a price ceiling is only a temporary measure. 

Inflation rose to 5.3% in August, reversing the downtrend seen in the last six months amid increases in food and fuel prices. The Philippine Statistical Authority reported the acceleration of food inflation to 8.1% last month was mainly due to higher year-on-year growth rate observed in rice, which rose to 8.7% from 4.2% in July. 

Aside from hoarding and smuggling, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, India’s ban on the export of non-basmati white rice, and the unpredictability of oil prices have resulted in surging costs of the grain.

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) earlier said that rice farmers and their organizations can request for local government units to procure palay directly from farmers at reasonable prices “to help prevent exploitative traders and millers from buying palay at unfair and very low prices.”

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