Taking Advantage-A A +A
By DP Limlingan
Thursday, August 22, 2013
WHEN it rains, it pours. This should not be the case for traders who want huge profits to pour in their businesses, especially in these times of incessant rains and floods.
Pampanga was not spared from the wrath of tropical storm "Maring" that was backed-up by monsoon rains. Well, we are on the season of rains and weather disturbances. We are on the season too of some opportunistic businessmen who increase the prices of commodities they sell to our hapless victims of floods.
There are too much enterprising individuals that take advantage of calamities, that they tend to overprice their commodities despite the existing price freeze that is implemented by the government in such trying times.
Some businessmen even hoard what they have before a forecast calamity and sell them at a higher price during the onslaught of such, to people who are helpless and have to bear for the increase in prices especially basic commodities like rice and canned goods.
When calamities strike, there exists an artificial shortage of goods. This is imminent since fishermen cannot go to the sea to catch fish like when there is a typhoon. The price of vegetables meanwhile soars high too since transport of these goods is made difficult by roads that are either flooded or blocked by eroded earth. Most of our vegetables come from the mountainous Baguio City that is prone to landslides.
The delivery of canned goods, rice and other basic commodities meanwhile adds up to their price since most roads in Metro Manila where they are usually manufactured, packed and sold for distribution in the provinces are likewise hampered by flooded highways and streets. The delivery is often delayed during inclement weather.
However, there are those businessmen who have already in their warehouses stockpiled goods and commodities that were bought for low prices that suddenly mark-up the same during calamities and emergencies. Their greed victimizes people who are already victims of misfortunes such as these floods that affected Metro Manila and most provinces in Central Luzon.
The hoarders take advantage of calamities and create artificial shortages of goods so they may be able to justify their sudden and onerous price increase.
Last Wednesday, the Department of Trade and Industry Regional Office III implemented a freeze in the prices of basic and prime goods in province of Pampanga including the province of Bataan in response to the placing of the said province under the state of calamity. This was brought to by typhoon Maring and the enhancement of monsoon rains that flooded majority of the barangays in Pampanga and many in Bataan province.
It can be noted that when there is a calamity, there is an automatic price control of basic goods and commodities as provided for under Section 6 of Republic Act 7581 or the Price Control Act.
The law aims to deter the overpricing of goods of some traders that take advantage of a calamity and to protect the citizenry against these unwarranted increase in the prices of commodities such as canned goods, instant noodles etc.
When a state of calamity is declared by the national government or a local government unit that is adversely affected by a calamity, price control can be implemented by the government or the local government unit concerned.
For the law to be properly implemented, the trade and industry department should have a keener eye on some unscrupulous traders who takes the opportunity in increasing the prices of the goods and commodities they sell to the public. They have to closely monitor businesses that cater to calamity-stricken areas. A random and surprise price check can be a sure way to get rid of overpricing businessmen in such trying times.
The prize freeze can somehow be the government’s small, little way of helping those who cannot help but to bear the ill-effects to calamities.
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Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on August 23, 2013.