Qualified rice retailers to get cash aid from government on September 14

PRICE CHECK. The Department of Trade and Industry has been monitoring rice prices at wet markets like the Carbon Public Market in Cebu City (above) since a price cap was imposed on regular- and well-milled rice on Sept. 5, 2023. / KAISER FUENTES
PRICE CHECK. The Department of Trade and Industry has been monitoring rice prices at wet markets like the Carbon Public Market in Cebu City (above) since a price cap was imposed on regular- and well-milled rice on Sept. 5, 2023. / KAISER FUENTES

SMALL-SCALE rice retailers in the region, who are grappling with the implementation of President Ferdinand Marcos’ Executive Order (EO) 39 that sets a price cap on some rice varieties, will receive the promised financial assistance from the government on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023.

The funding comes from the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP).

The DSWD will give qualified rice retailers P15,000, and sari-sari store vendors P5,000.

According to Ines Cajegas, chief trade industry development specialist of the Consumer Protection Division of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Cebu Province, the DTI will provide the list of qualified beneficiaries.

Cajegas said they have been profiling small-scale retailers for possible beneficiaries since EO 39 took effect on Tuesday, Sept. 5.

Cajegas said they have identified three payout centers in Cebu Island: Carbon Public Market in Cebu City, Consolacion Public Market in the north and Minglanilla Public Market in the south.

She said there will also be a payout center at the Tagbilaran City Central Public Market in Bohol, Dumaguete Public Market in Negros Oriental, and Siquijor Public Market in Siquijor.

“Sept. 14 is our grand day. We will conduct our pioneer payout,” she told SunStar Cebu on Monday, Sept. 11.

Since the DSWD has yet to finalize the venues, there’s a slight chance these might change, she said.

She said the local government unit (LGU) will be charged with securing the payout center.

Cajegas also revealed that only a few retailers have complied with EO 39, which requires them to sell regular-milled rice at P41 per kilo and well-milled rice at P45 per kilo, so only a select few are qualified to receive the aid.

“They are only from Guadalupe Public Market, Carbon Public Market, and T. Padilla Public Market,” she said in Cebuano.

As of Monday, Cajegas said they have profiled 93 retailers in Cebu, 70 retailers in Bohol, 148 retailers in Negros Oriental and 42 retailers in Siquijor, or a total of 353 retailers.

However, of the 353 profiled retailers, only 105 passed the set criteria to qualify for the assistance.

She said they expect the number to go up since this is the first time that the agency is determining the number of rice traders in the region.

In Cebu alone, which has 53 LGUs, Cajegas said they have only profiled retailers in the cities of Cebu and Bogo and in the towns of Minglanilla, Consolacion, Moalboal, Compostela, Carmen, Liloan, Danao, Sogod, Tabogon, Borbon, and Catmon.

Criteria

To qualify for the assistance, retailers must sell regular-milled rice at P41 per kilo and well-milled rice at P45 per kilo. They must have a business permit or are registered under DTI as a sole proprietor or under the Securities and Exchange Commission. They must also have a stall in the market.

Cajegas said registered sellers will be prioritized in the distribution of assistance, followed by non-registered retailers and sari-sari store vendors.

She said non-registered retailers must be validated by the market masters or the DTI.

She said most of the profiled retailers are registered vendors, but she did not specify how many.

She said some retailers are defying the order because they don’t want to incur a loss of income having bought their supply at a high price.

Last Friday, Sept. 8, representatives from the Department of Agriculture 7, DTI 7, Department of the Interior and Local Government 7, Bureau of Customs 7, National Food Authority 7 and National Intelligence Coordinating Agency met to discuss the implementation of EO 39.

Among the things they talked about was the possible reactivation of the Local Price Coordinating Council. (EHP)

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