Rice traders bemoan daily losses from price cap  

Diana Lhyd Suelto, Bella Cariaso - The Philippine Star
Rice traders bemoan daily losses from price cap   
Rice dealers display rice and their prices at New York Street, Cubao, Quezon City on April 16, 2023.
STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — Rice retailers are losing P7,000 a day because of the implementation of Executive Order 39 putting price caps of P41 and P45 per kilo of the staple, a retailers group said on Thursday.

At a press conference, Philippine Rice Industry Stakeholders Movement co-founder and Grains Retailers Confederation of the Philippines (GRECON) national spokesperson Orly Manuntag said a retailer will lose at least P49,000 in just one week of the price ceiling.

“A retailer sells at least 20 bags of rice, so if they acquired the rice at P50 per kilo and they will sell at P45 per kilo, the difference is P5 per kilo. If you multiply P5 to 50 kilos, that is P250 per cavan and multiply it by 20 cavans, that is P5,000. You also need to consider the rent, labor and food, so the average is P7,000 in a day,” Manuntag said.

EO 39, which puts a price cap on regular milled rice at P41 and well-milled rice at P45, took effect on Sept. 5.

“So for one week, that is P49,000. The P15,000 (assistance) is not enough. It is only good for two to three days,” Manuntag said, referring to the one-time P15,000 assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

“We still don’t know what we will do since we cannot afford to sell at P45 per kilo. Maybe we can ask our suppliers to help us but if we cannot afford to sell, we will just sell premium rice,” he added.

Hundreds of GRECON members held a special meeting at the National Food Authority office in Visayas Ave. Quezon City to discuss EO 39.

No consultation

The government failed to consult farmers and retailers before the implementation of EO 39, former agriculture secretary Leonardo Montemayor said.

“The problem is it lacks consultation. Based on my knowledge, different farmers organizations were not consulted. I am sure that the retailers groups were not also consulted, otherwise they will ask if the cheap rice is already available and if the assistance is also ready,” Montemayor said, noting that it is only now that concerned government agencies prepare for the guidelines on the assistance for affected retailers.

At same time, he said farmers are already affected by EO 39, as the farmgate price of palay has dropped by 20 percent.

“Traders will say that they can afford to buy palay at P25, P28 per kilo as they need to sell the rice at P41 per kilo. As a result, the farmgate price of palay already went down by 20 percent,” Montemayor said.

“Many retailers were complaining (of) suffering big losses as they bought rice at a higher price. They cannot afford to sell at P41 and P45 per kilo. They will be forced to stop their business,” he stated.

“Traders buy palay and milled to make it rice and will be stored in the warehouses before being supplied to retailers. If the hoarding and manipulation come from there, the government should focus on them but so far, nobody was charged,” he added.

Report violators

Days after the implementation of the price ceiling on rice, the Davao City Police urged the public to report vendors who violate the mandated price caps.

“We urge our Dabawenyo brothers and sisters that if they have seen rice retailers that did not follow or oppose the order of our President by not following the price of P41 to P45 – we urge them to go to nearest police station so that we can put them into record and help our Department of Agriculture and Department of Trade and Industry to implement this for our fellow Dabawenyos who are really affected by the surging price of rice,” it said.

“The PNP and other law enforcement agencies are mandated to assist DTI and the DA in ensuring that the order is implemented by the rice retailers.” - Marc Jayson Cayabyab

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