Abusive rice traders slammed

September 2, 2023 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 277 views

ALBAY 2nd District Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda on Saturday said some abusive traders have forced Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez Jr. and Bureau of Customs (BoC) Commissioner Bienvenido “Bien” Y. Rubio to conduct inspections on big rice warehouses and for President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to issue Executive Order (EO) No. 39 imposing rice price ceiling.

“There is clearly abuse of market power among certain participants, as was made evident in recent raids of warehouses.

Speaker Romualdez himself took part in these raids, in his efforts to deter market abuse in the rice sector,” Salceda, chairman of the House committee on ways and means.

Salceda said “price ceilings can have negative second round effects, such as shortages.”

“If we want to avoid any shortage, the price ceiling must not be higher than equilibrium price. So, to avoid shortage, the DA (Department of Agriculture) must ensure that there is indeed enough supply in the market across all geographical areas,” Salceda said.

“I also suggested last year that we pay a premium to our partners for the right to buy rice at a slightly higher price than current world price, but at a price that is already fixed regardless of any potential further increase in the future.

That helps put an end to unwarranted price speculation in the global market, since we are one of the world’s largest importers of rice,” Salceda said.

Amid President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr.’s directive to set price ceilings on rice nationwide, AGRI Rep. Wilbert T. Lee has renewed his call to implement long-lasting government interventions to alleviate rising rice prices.

Under Executive Order (EO) No. 39 signed by Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin on Aug. 31, President Marcos approved imposing a price cap at P41/kilo for regular milled rice and P45.00/kilo for well-milled rice.

According to Lee, setting a price ceiling for rice could be a drastic intervention to ease the burden of our consumers but permanent solutions should be urgently implemented to genuinely address the root causes of soaring prices of agricultural products, including rice.

“Tulad ng nauna nating panawagan, kailangan din natin ng sustainable o pangmatagalang mga solusyon tulad ng agarang pamamahagi at pagdaragdag ng post-harvest facilities sa ating mga magsasaka, at ang isinusulong natin na pagpapalakas sa anti-agri smuggling law, para bukod sa mga smugglers, ay mapanagot din natin ang mga hoarders, price manipulators at mga kasabwat sa gobyerno na dahilan ng pagsipa ng presyo ng agri products tulad ng bigas,” the solon said.

Lee also shared that he filed House Bill No. 9020 or the “Cheaper Rice Act” to establish a program that will provide subsidies intended to lower rice prices while encouraging farmers to increase their production.

“Inihain din natin ang ating panukalang Cheaper Rice Act, na layuning maglaan ang gobyerno ng pondo para sa subsidiya sa pagbili ng palay sa halaga na sigurado ang kita ng mga magsasaka.

Ang mabibili namang produkto mula sa kanila ay ibebenta sa consumers sa mas murang presyo,” he explained.

“Kapag nasiguro natin na kumikita ang mga magsasaka, mas maeengganyo silang magpatuloy sa pagsasaka at pataasin pa ang kanilang produksyon, na bukod sa makakatulong sa ating food security, ay magpapababa rin sa presyo ng bilihin. Kapag nangyari ito, siguradong Winner Tayo Lahat,” he said.