By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat
Finally, Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez has admitted of shortage in the supply of face masks as demand surges following the confirmation from the health authorities of the country’s first case of novel corona virus (nCoV).
“Problem is again the supply for now. Shortage is due to sudden jump in demand that even their reordered stocks got wiped out immediately. So, we advised them to reorder in much bigger quantities,” he said.
Lopez believes the supply problem occurs only if there is a sudden increase or panic in demand and stores did not stock up. In the case of face masks, he said, “shortage should be temporary because supply of a manufactured product can easily be increased, unlike if it were an agri product.”
Even as he admitted of shortage in the supply of face masks, the trade chief maintained there is no price problem because DTI has intensified its price monitoring.
“I don’t think there will be hoarding because they cannot jack up the price anyway as we in government will watch it closely.
In fact, they should be selling all their stocks out while demand is so strong,” he added.
Consumer advocacy group Laban Konsyumer, Inc. has suggested to identify the importers and inspect and open up their warehouses. LKI President Victorio Mario Dimagiba said the Bureau of Import Services of DTI can identify mask importers and warehouses location.
The PhIlippine National Police can conduct intelligence operation to ensure that the 2 million masks DTI said earlier had entered the Philippine market. In additiin, LKI has urged the Department of Finance to identify type of mask and photos that pass quality test.
Local government units should ensure that the suggested retail price on face masks must be strictly implemented.