AT LEAST 61 micro businesses in Negros Oriental affected by the rice price cap set by the government have qualified to receive cash aid of PHP15,000 each this week.

Nimfa Virtucio, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) provincial director, told the Philippine News Agency on Monday that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will distribute the cash assistance on Thursday in this capital city.

“The 61 beneficiaries are rice retailers across the province whose sales of the staple have been affected by the price ceiling as ordered by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and who have been profiled in the past week,” Virtucio said.

The DTI official said bigger businesses, such as supermarkets and grocery stores, whose capital investment is beyond PHP3 million do not qualify for the cash assistance under DSWD’s Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP).

The cash assistance is to defray the losses of the retailers who had bought their rice supply at a higher price even before the effectivity of Executive Order No. 39 which imposes a price cap on regular milled rice at PHP41 and PHP45 for well-milled rice.

Virtucio said the beneficiaries must also present a business permit proving that they are legitimate small retailers.

She said joint monitoring and profiling by the DTI and the Department of Agriculture (DA) showed that not all the retailers selling regular and well-milled rice follow the mandatory price ceiling.

The DTI said at least 180 rice retailers in Negros Oriental have been called out and warned after they were found to have violated the EO.

Meanwhile, DTI, DA, Philippine National Police, National Food Authority and other line agencies will be convening this week for the creation of the “Bantay Presyo” (Price Watch) Task Force to go after violators of the rice price cap. (PNA)