By MARIO B. CASAYURAN
Senator-elect Imee Marcos has called on the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and local government units (LGUs) to roll out Kadiwa stores for school supplies in cooperation with traders to help poor families send their children to school.
Marcos, currently governor of Ilocos Norte, lamented that while government finances a free education program at public schools, it does not give free school supplies.
“Madalas, ang presyo ng school supplies hindi kaya ng mga mahihirap nating kababayan. Hindi rin lahat ng LGU, kayang magbigay ng libreng school supplies sa mga nangangailangan (Most poor Filipinos cannot afford the high prices of school supplies. Not all LGUs have the financial capability to give free school supplies to the needy),” Marcos said.
“Every year, the DTI releases its SRP (suggested retail price) for school supplies to keep prices at affordable levels. But still, prices are often higher than the SRP. So I am appealing to the DTI and our LGUs to also initiate Kadiwa stores for school supplies together with traders to help keep prices of school supplies affordable for low-income families struggling to send their children to school,” she explained.
“Nananawagan din ako sa ating mga traders at retailers na huwag masyadong itaas ang presyo. Kaya namang tumubo ng sobra pa sa sapat na hindi mahirapan ang mga mamimili. Mas maganda sa negosyo ang tamang presyo – mas maraming mamimili, mas lalago ang negosyo, nakakatulong pa tayo sa tao (I call on our traders and retailers not to increase so much their prices. They make profit as a matter of course but the SRP should not be that high so as not to burden the consumers. It is better to price goods at reasonable levels so that there would be more buyers, improve their businesses and still help the poor),” Marcos added.
As a long-term solution to ease the burden of parents every school opening, the former Ilocos Norte congresswoman renewed her call on government to remove the value-added tax (VAT) on basic commodities, including school supplies.
“Removing the VAT on school supplies is a sound investment on our youth together with the free tuition and the 20 percent discount on transportation fares for our students,” Marcos said.
“Kinabukasan ng bayan ang kabataan. Kung mas konti ang gastos, mas maraming makakapag-aral, mas uunlad ang ating bayan (The future of our country is dependent on our youth. There will be more pupils/students if they are not burdened by high prices. The country will improve),” she added.
Marcos issued the statement following reports that in Cebu, the DTI recorded six to 12 percent increase in the prices of school supplies from last year.
DTI Cebu senior development specialist Dinah Oro said the price increases ranged from 25 centavos to P11 per item.
An econobond type of notebook with 80 leaves, for example, is priced at P17, up from P14 last year.
Prices of pencils, according to the SRP, should only go up by P2 while pad papers should only increase by P3 to P5.