DTI watches prices, copes with damage-A A +A
By Mia A. Aznar
Saturday, October 19, 2013
THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Cebu office began enforcing the prize freeze on basic necessities yesterday, following the declaration of a state of calamity for the earthquake-stricken provinces of Cebu and Bohol.
DTI-Cebu Director Nelia Navarro said any retailer caught selling higher than the suggested retail prices of certain commodities face an administrative fine of up to P1 million or a maximum of 10 years in prison.
After the 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit Tuesday, teams from the DTI-Cebu office were dispatched to conduct price monitoring of basic necessities.
In the list of basic commodities are canned sardines in tomato sauce, processed milk products, coffee, detergent soap and pan de sal.
A 25-gram piece of pan de sal has a suggested retail price of P2 while 155-gram cans of sardines range from P12.50 to P13.75. A 300-gram can of condensed milk is priced between P47.45 and P61. Evaporated filled milk ranges from P34.05 to P48.55 while powdered filled milk is from P41.85 for the 150 gram pack to P72.50 for 160 grams.
A 25-gram pack of instant coffee is priced between P16.45 and P19.95 while a 50-gram pack can be bought at P32.70 to P40.
Laundry detergent bar prices ranged from P17.25 to P44.
Back in business in Cebu
Monitoring was conducted in 56 retail outlets and four wet markets in the Metro Cebu area.
After three days of monitoring, Navarro assured that the prices of commodities in Cebu remained stable. While most of the retail outlets were closed Tuesday, many were able to open last Wednesday, as the damage incurred in their establishments was due to some displayed items knocked off their stands.
“Most of them were closed Tuesday to clean up. They were able to reopen the next day,” she said.
Navarro also assured that there have been no cases of panic-buying in Cebu. “The supply situation here is very good,” she said.
With the Christmas holidays approaching, Navarro explained that retailers have begun stocking up on their inventories.
However, to make sure there are enough goods, she met with retailers yesterday afternoon to find out how long their stocks are good for and if they have any concerns or problems in distribution that they at the agency can address.
The price freeze will be in effect until the state of calamity is lifted.
Construction materials next
After monitoring the prices of basic commodities, Navarro said they will also start monitoring construction materials next week.
With many structures incurring damages, they expect the demand for construction materials to go up. However, they are prioritizing the monitoring of basic necessities as the need for these is more immediate. For now, those planning to repair structures are still assessing the damage.
The DTI teams conducted the monitoring in spite of the heavy damage incurred on the ceiling of their office.
They vacated their third floor office at the LDM Building on Lapu-Lapu St. as parts of the ceiling gave way while cracks on the posts became visible.
Seeing the state of their office, Navarro said it was still a blessing that the earthquake occurred on a holiday. She and staff members shuddered to think about what would have happened had they all been at work when the ground began to shake.
Lighting fixtures, broken glass, files and some parts of the building were strewn all over the floor and desks while wires hung from the exposed ceilings. Cracks, they said, became more visible with each aftershock.
From over 600 square meters of office space, 33 staff members had to squeeze into the first floor inside the National Economic Research and Business Assistance Center (Nerbac), where some 10 staff members already held office. The Nerbac is a one-stop center for those who want to open a business, and has several counters to accommodate applicants.
As of yesterday, the staff was still moving office tables around to accommodate themselves.
“We are trying our best to fit ourselves in here,” she admitted, as she asked a colleague where a meeting could be held with the conference room also occupied.
She also had to request assessors for ISO certification to postpone their assessment to next month so they could adjust to the smaller space.
Neighboring offices on the same floor stayed empty.
Though they are saddened by the outcome, the DTI-Cebu was scheduled to move to another location anyway. The office vacated by the Department of Foreign Affairs is currently being rebuilt for them and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Instead, they hope the building works could be hastened so they can move at an earlier date.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 20, 2013.