DTI to decide on price hike requests for basic goods

Louella Desiderio - The Philippine Star
DTI to decide on price hike requests for basic goods
Sen. Mark Villar and Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual inspect prices of Noche Buena items at a supermarket in Divisoria, Manila November 29, 2023.
Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is looking to start issuing its decision on requests for price adjustments of basic necessities and prime commodities (BNPC) this January.

“Around this month, we will start releasing letter of concurrence,” Trade Assistant Secretary Amanda Nograles told reporters over the weekend.

Out of the 217 BNPCs in the suggested retail price (SRP) bulletin being issued by the DTI, she said the agency has received requests for price adjustments for 63 items.

“Fifty-nine of those are general price increase. But two items have weight reduction and corresponding price increase, whereas two will have a weight and price reduction,” Nograles said.

She said those with requests for price adjustments are for canned sardines, processed milk, coffee, bread, instant noodles, bottled water, processed canned meat and canned beef, condiments, toilet soap, candles and batteries.

For the food items in particular, she said manufacturers are seeking price adjustments ranging from P0.25 to P7.25.

She said some of the price adjustment requests were made in 2022, while some were made early last year, with higher costs of raw materials cited as the reason by manufacturers.

Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual said rising packaging and transport costs are also a major source of price increases.

“The strategy is, first in. Those who applied first, those will be the first to be released… So, it will not be done all at the same time. And then when we are able to release, hopefully by first quarter of 2024, we will update the SRP bulletin to reflect all of the adjustments,” Nograles said.

In approving price adjustment requests, she said the DTI has its own formula and data to compare with the amount requested by manufacturers.

Nograles said manufacturers have to substantiate their claims of increase in production, labor and distribution costs in their requests for price adjustments.

She also said manufacturers’ practice of “shrinkflation” – or reducing the weight of products considered as BNPCs while retaining the price – have to be evaluated by the DTI.

She said manufacturers found to practice “shrinkflation” without informing the DTI will be issued with a letter of inquiry or notice of violation.

With the reduced 3.9 percent inflation in December 2023, Speaker Martin Romualdez assured the administration of President Marcos that the House of Representatives will continue exercising its oversight powers to ensure affordable prices of goods in the market.

The House leader said the reduced inflation is “aligned” with the target of government to achieve a stable two to four percent inflation. — Delon Porcalla

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