Monday, September 4, 2023

President Marcos Jr. Orders DTI to Facilitate Distribution of Financial Aid to Affected Retailers

President Marcos Jr. Orders DTI to Facilitate Distribution of Financial Aid to Affected Retailers

MANILA—On Monday, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. ordered the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to facilitate the immediate distribution of financial aid to retailers who might be affected by the implementation of the Executive Order No. 39, s. 2023, which sets the price ceiling of regular-milled rice at PHP41.00/kilogram and well-milled rice at PHP 45.00/kilogram.

"Habang kami ay nasa Jakarta, ay walang tigil po ang aming pagtutok sa sitwasyon na ngayon na ating hinaharap tungkol sa bigas. Naunawaan na namin at nakita agad na mayroong mga retailers na maiipit dahil sila ay bumili ng mahal na bigas, ngayon ay mapipilitan sila maipagbili 'yung mahal na bigas sa murang halaga. Kaya't mayroon tayong plano, sa kasalukuyan, ang ating DTI, ang ating Department of Agriculture ay gumagawa ng listahan ng ating mga rice retailers. Habang ginagawa 'yan, kinakalkula rin kung ano ang magiging lugi noong mga rice retailers dahil nga sa price cap," President Marcos Jr. said in his departure statement ahead of his attendance to the 43rd ASEAN Summit and Related Summits in Jakarta, Indonesia.

With this, Trade and Industry Secretary Fred Pascual ordered the creation of a Special Task Force that will ensure the efficient implementation of the said E.O.

“Sa mga kasamahan ko sa DTI na naka-assign sa rice task force, sama-sama nating gampanan ang ating tungkulin nang maayos at mahusay.", Secretary Pascual said in a message.

In coordination with other government agencies and stakeholders, the Department will implement the following forms of assistance to rice retailers/wholesalers, including small supermarkets that will be affected by the price ceiling: (1) Financial Assistance; (2) Loan Programs; (3) Logistics Support; and (4) Market Linkages and Support.

Through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), a financial aid or compensation will be given to retailers/wholesalers in wet markets and neighborhood sundry stores to cover the difference between the cost of the current inventory of rice and the price ceiling. The government will likewise provide transportation in delivering rice from traders to retailers to reduce logistical costs.

Further, market linkages will be established to link local farmers with supermarket chains and other retailers and promote bulk buying or advance purchase of supermarkets, restaurants, hotels, resorts, and other commercial establishments.

As convened by Assistant Secretary Uvero, members of the Special Task Force agreed to start the conduct of the profiling and validation within the day in coordination with the DA, Local Government Units (LGUs), and the Local Price Coordinating Councils (LPCCs). Likewise, DTI will mobilize associations to gather list of retailers and properly identify potential beneficiaries.

"Currently, we are working with other government agencies to facilitate the profiling and validation of retailers, which shall be the basis for the distribution of financial aid by DSWD as early as next week. We are also set to conduct visits in warehouses in various locations to ensure that there is enough supply and discourage hoarding. As instructed by DTI Secretary Fred Pascual, the task force will ensure that consumers are protected and retailers will receive the assistance they need as the E.O. takes effect," Asec. Uvero said during the meeting.

In aid of efficient monitoring and implementation, the DTI also assured the conduct of day-to-day joint monitoring activities with DA beginning 5 September 2023 to ensure that the price ceiling is being followed in various wet markets, supermarkets, and sundry stores. 

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