The Department of Agriculture (DA) expects the approval within the week by the Office of the President of an order that will cap prices of pork and chicken even as it released yesterday the new suggested retail prices (SRPs) of these products and other agriculture commodities sold in wet markets in the National Capital Region.
In an online briefing yesterday, DA Secretary William Dar said the caps will be in effect for 60 days: P270 per kilogram for kasim and pigue, P300 per kg for liempo and P160 per kg for chicken.
Those prices approximate those in the SRP list of the DA and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) which placed the price of pork pigue and kasim at P260 per kg , liempo, P290 per kg and whole chicken, P140 per kg.
According to DA assistant secretary Noel Reyes, the caps will prevail over the SRPs.
Reyes added violation of price freeze carries heavier penalties than for violation of SRPs, which as the name suggests, are merely guides.
The caps take into account a reasonable margins to traders and to retailers.
“Current breakeven price of pork for live is at P105 per kg so it really should not be sold for over P300 per kg.,” Dar said.
Dar said initial monitoring operations tagged a number of engaging in unfair trade practices but did not elaborate.
He added the DA suspects even transportation fees are being jacked up by traders and wholesalers.
He said will focus monitoring of key markets in Metro Manila including Balintawak, Commonwealth, Divisoria, Baclaran and Nepa-Q Mart.
“We are focused on traders and wholesalers…we also now have the economic intelligence team and investigation from the Philippine Competition Commission,” Dar said.
Dar said the imposition of price cap is widely supported by members of the league of provincial chief executives, the private sector and civil society organization in a meeting last week.
The DTI meanwhile partnered with the DA and Metro Manila mayors to assist in monitoring supply and prices of agricultural products in their respective jurisdictions.
DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez in a statement said he has asked local government units’ market masters to seek a dialogue with retailers and transporters on the implementation of SRPs and come up with a registry of stakeholders involved in the supply chain to prevent unjust price spikes in the market.
However, agricultural lobby group, Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) said the DA should instead stop importation as its proposed price ceilings may just discourage businessmen to supply pork and chicken to Metro Manila.
“Prices are high because pork supply in Metro Manila are being sourced from as far as Ilocos in the north and Bicol in the south. The cost of feeds and other inputs also went up,” said Rosendo So, SINAG chairman.
In a statement, So said the DA should fast track the construction of a first border inspection facility to prevent the entry of animal diseases.