Rice retailers feared that they would be forced to close their stores as they lamented their losses with the implementation of the price ceiling on the food staple on Tuesday.
At Blumentritt Market in Manila, retailer Cherry Martinez lamented losses in selling regular and well-milled rice with price caps of P41 per kilo and P45 per kilo, respectively, according to a report of James Agustin on Unang Balita.
She said they may close their store when the remaining stock is sold.
“Ngayong araw na 'to lugi. Maaga kami gumising para magpakalugi kasi ito ang hanapbuhay namin e. Araw-araw pupunta kami sa palengke para magtinda ng bigas,” Martinez said.
(Today, we will incur losses. We woke up early just to incur losses because this is our livelihood. We go to the market every day to sell rice.)
“Ngayon sinabi ng Pangulo kailangan magtinda kayo ng P41, P45 [per kilo]. Wala kaming choice. 'Yung kaunting stock namin ibebenta namin ng P41, P45 [per kilo]. Kapag naubos 'yun, wala na tigil na,” she added.
(Now, the President told us to sell rice at P41, P45 [per kilogram]. We have no choice. We will sell our remaining stock at P41, P45 [per kilo] and once it is all sold, we will close our store.)
According to the report, the retailer expected to incur P10,000 in losses if the remaining stock of rice is sold following the price cap.
Another retailer Almira Tan said their store stopped selling regular and well-milled rice two months ago because of the lack of supply. Due to this, the store is only selling premium grade, special, and imported rice.
At Blumentritt Market, premium grade rice costs P50 to P55 per kilo, special rice costs P56 to P58 per kilo, while imported rice costs P55 per kilo, according to the report.
Retailers said they can comply with the price cap without incurring losses if there are suppliers who can supply them with rice within their budget. They said they will sell them even with a P1 profit only.
Aside from this, retailers suggested that the government provide subsidies to retailers affected by the price ceiling.
“Meron ba kaming subsidy sa bawat lugi namin araw-araw? Sabihin na nating P1,500 o P1,000 sa ilang araw, may tulong ba kaming makukuha sa Pangulo kasi sinunod namin siya?” Martinez said.
(Do we have a subsidy for every loss we incur every day? Let’s say P1,500 or P1,000 for a few days. Will we receive any assistance from the President because we complied with his order?)
For her part, Tan said “Sana pag-isipan nilang mabuti kung paano talaga kasi 'yung kaming end retailer talaga, hirap din kami (They should have thought about this very well because we end retailers are suffering).
Some rice retailers in Muñoz Market in Quezon City as well as in provinces such as Bulacan, Isabela, Ilocos Norte, and Iloilo also lamented the impact of the price ceiling on their livelihood.
They appealed to the government to impose the price ceiling gradually.
Interviewed on Unang Balita, Philippine Rice Industry Stakeholders Movement founder Rowena Sadicon said they need time to prepare for the price cap to ease its impact on their livelihood.
“Dahil nga po sa biglaan ito, walang sapat na panahon para makapaghanda dito. Kasi pababa pa lang [ang presyo] na ating inaasahan dahil pagpasok ng ating dagsa ng anihan nitong September at October,” she said in an interview on Unang Balita.
(Because this was sudden, there was not enough time to prepare. We were just anticipating that the price of rice was about to decrease because of the harvest season in September and October.)
Sadicon hoped that the price ceiling would not last long because it would have a domino effect affecting not only retailers but the entire supply chain.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. approved last week the imposition of price ceiling on rice across the country amid the skyrocketing prices in local markets.
The mandated price ceiling for regular milled rice is P41 per kilo while the mandated price cap for well-milled rice is P45 per kilo, according to Executive Order 39.
Marcos' approval of the price ceiling stemmed from the surge in retail prices of rice in local markets, which ranged from P45 to P70 per kilo.
Marcos said Monday that the mandatory price ceiling on rice would only be temporary.
This as Marcos emphasized that the harvest season in the Philippines is already finished and that the rice imported from other countries will soon arrive.
The President also vowed that the government had a plan for rice retailers who would be adversely affected by the price ceiling on the commodity.
In his departure speech on Monday prior to his trip to Jakarta for the 43rd ASEAN Summit, Marcos stressed that the government understood the concerns of rice retailers as he promised that aid would be available so they would not lose profits.
Speaker Martin Romualdez of Leyte said Monday that the Marcos administration is eyeing P2 billion in aid for rice retailers who will incur losses as a result of EO 39.
Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rex Gatchalian on Tuesday said small retailers affected by the rice price cap may receive P15,000 financial assistance under the DSWD's Sustainable Livelihood Program.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) will come up with a mechanism and a list of beneficiaries for the aid, he added.
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) on Sunday expressed its support for the price ceiling on rice across the country following the continuous increase in prices reported in local markets.
According to the NEDA, the price ceiling was only meant as a temporary measure that would be complemented by other government initiatives.
Trade Assistant Secretary Agaton Uvero meanwhile on Saturday said retailers who will violate the government-imposed retail price caps on rice might face fines of up to P1 million. —KG, GMA Integrated News