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EDITORIAL - Why are prices of goods still up?

(The Freeman) - January 28, 2016 - 9:00am

Oil prices are down like they have never been before in at least a decade. The immediate reaction of people is to look at their effect on transportation fares. As of this writing, there has been none. To be sure, one transport sector group said it would be lowering jeepney fares. But that is easier said than done. Lowering or raising fares is not something that is done unilaterally. It needs the ok of the LTFRB.

But the LTFRB has been very slow in dealing with the matter. On the other hand, other transport sector groups are adamantly against any fare rollback. The taxi sector, for instance, says it cannot lower fares because prices of spare parts are high. And rental rates, or boundaries, are high as well. These are the very same reasons the taxi sector invokes to petition higher fares whenever oil prices soar.

Buses, on the other hand, are resisting fare cuts for an entirely different reason. Bus operators say their fares are already low because of undercutting due to stiff competition, something that the LTFRB has ignored completely, apparently because the riding public seems to go along. This says a lot about how wishy-washy government and its agencies perform their duties.

But fares in light of oil price cuts are just one thing. A much bigger issue that a wishy-washy government has continued to ignore is the fact that prices of goods and commodities, which almost automatically rise with every oil price hike, have not just as automatically gone down in light of the oil price cuts. Producers, manufacturers and sellers of these goods and commodities continue to reap the profits of high oil prices at low oil prices.

So what is the government, and specifically the Department of Trade and Industry, doing about the situation? Why, it is doing absolutely nothing. Prices of goods and commodities have not only remained as they are, some have probably even gone higher. To be sure, the DTI cannot dictate on prices, only propose standard retail prices. But even in such a puny and spineless undertaking, not a peep has been heard, even if only to prick a few consciences here and there.

Oil prices have always served as a measure for almost everything else. They are often the barometer to be consulted on where the economy might be going. In fact, there are now very serious economic jitters being provoked by the continued slide in global oil prices, a phenomenon that is not expected to ease very soon on account of the reentry of Iran into the oil market following the lifting of its economic sanctions by the west.

But here we are, poor old Philippines, still struggling with high prices that refuse to go down despite oil prices now scraping near rock bottom. Government, which is supposed to be doubly on the lookout for the interests of the most vulnerable sectors of society, appears to be in the bag instead of big business. So just grin and bear it, Filipinos, because the government that you have been told is supposedly of you, by you, and for you, is actually farthest from being so.

 

COMMODITIES CUTS DEPARTMENT OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY EVEN FARES GOODS GOVERNMENT HIGH OIL PRICES SECTOR
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