Imee: Hold price hikes for basic goods until lockdowns are over

Published August 4, 2021, 3:35 PM

by Mario Casayuran

Senator Imee R. Marcos on Wednesday, August 4 asked the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to put on hold price increases it granted manufacturers of basic necessities and prime commodities in July.

Marcos, chairperson of the Senate Economic Affairs committee, said that the three percent to five percent price increases estimated by the DTI would be no small matter for daily wage earners who would be unable to earn their keep when a two-week lockdown begins this Friday to control the spread of the dreaded Delta variant.

“We need to help keep down costs for ordinary households because social welfare subsidies or ‘ayuda’ are not limitless and their distribution will be staggered. Who knows the outcome of this new lockdown and how long wage earners will have to stop earning a living?” Marcos said.

‘’Let’s hope the ‘ayuda’ is distributed at once so that people can start stocking up and avoid the panic buying that is now happening as well as having to queue for SAP only to end up violating the lockdown,’’ she stated.

Price surveys conducted by Marcos’s office in sari-sari stores and supermarkets in Metro Manila show that typical food products like sardines and canned meats, instant noodles, coffee and milk have already gone up by 15 centavos to one peso.

“The price increases are premature since the DTI has not yet made public its latest SRPs (suggested retail prices) for basic necessities and prime commodities,” Marcos said.

Marcos warned manufacturers and store owners of taking advantage of panic buyers, citing Republic Act 7581 that prohibits profiteering and hoarding during emergency situations.

Manufacturers have appealed to the DTI to grant them an increase in prices that have remained unchanged since 2019, due to the rising costs of raw materials like oil and flour and packaging like tin and plastic.

However, Marcos pointed out that businessmen are in a better position to absorb income reductions than the ordinary wage earner until lockdowns are over.

“As we have learned from one and a half years of open-shut lockdowns, these drastic measures are only enforceable and effective if accompanied by: 1. adequate and early ‘ayuda’; 2. mass vaccination, testing and treatment. Otherwise, even the toughest lockdowns go to waste, ruining invaluable lives and valuable livelihoods,” she added.