The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has a standing recommendation to impose price caps on pork not just on the retail price side, but across the value chain to ensure traders, hog raisers and other middle men are not engaged in profiteering activities.
DTI Secretary Ramon M. Lopez stressed this at the hearing by the Senate committees on agriculture, food, agrarian reform, and trade, commerce and entrepreneurs that tackled the inability of the government, particularly the Department of Agriculture and DTI to control the rising prices of pork and chicken in the domestic market.
While agriculture products are no under the purview of the DTI, which authority covers only manufactured or processed goods, Lopez recommended that DA may not only impose the price freeze on pork at their retail prices, but across its value chain from farmgate to wholesaler and the trader.
Malacanang, however, has already acceded to the recommendation of the DA for the issuance of a price freeze on pork at the retail market in Metro Manila over a 60-day period. EO 124 issued Monday by President Duterte imposed a price ceiling on the retail price of pork at P270 per kilo (kasim/pigue) and P300 per kilo for liempo, and P160 per kilo for dressed chicken.
The DTI, however, said that its recommendation for the imposing of price caps or suggested retail prices from the farmgate, wholesale and the traders is standing recommendation of the agency.
Lopez explained that once the price caps or SRPs are imposed, all those in the value chain have to follow and it would be easier to monitor where in the entire value chain the price fluctuations happened. Once that is established, the retailers will just automatically mark up their regular margins.
The DTI recommendation followed after DA said that price manipulation is happening at the traders’ side.
Hog raisers, however, said that in Batangas the farmgate price is P220 per kilo and the production cost is P180. They cannot also hold hogs because of the fear of the African Swine Flu (ASF) so they have cull even the 60-kilogram hogs instead of 100 kgs, which is ideal size for maximum return on investment.
The 5 million heads of hogs culled last year was a result of hog raisers’ fear of the ASF considering that only the small hog raisers were paid by the government, but the above 20 heads or commercial hog raisers were not paid anymore.
The senators, however, including Senator Cynthia Villar, who heads the joint committee hearing did not believe in the effectivity of the price freeze.
Senators urged Dar to shift its funding more for the livestock rather than fertilizers, which Villar said may be subject to another Senate inquiry on alleged scam issue.