P15,000 'cannot cover' losses of affected rice retailers

File photo
File photo

THE P15,000 cash assistance that the government will be providing to small-scale rice retailers affected by the price cap on certain varieties of rice in the region is not enough, an official of a rice retailers’ group said.

Erwin Gok-ong, vice president of the Grain Retailers Confederation of the Philippines Cebu City North District, said the amount will not cover their losses if they complied with Executive Order (EO) 39, which sets the price ceiling of P41 for regular-milled rice and P45 for well-milled rice.

Gok-ong said his supplier sells regular-milled rice for P46 per kilo, and well-milled rice for P52 per kilo.

He said a 50-kilo sack of regular-milled rice costs him P2,300. But if he sells it at P41 per kilo, he will only earn P2,050, or a loss of P270. It’s the same with a 50-kilo sack of well-milled rice, which costs him P2,600. If he sells it at P46 per kilo, he will only earn P2,250, or a loss of P350.

“If P3,500 ang alkansehon sa usa ka adlaw sa 10 nga paspas nga pagpamaligya, and moingon sila og 20 days, kanang P70,000,” he said on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023, adding that retailers who have adhered to the price cap at the Carbon Public Market in Barangay Ermita, Cebu City have suffered income losses since EO 39 was implemented last Sept. 5.

(If a retailer loses P3,500 daily for selling 10 bags of well-milled rice, and they say the price cap might be effected for 20 days, then the cash assistance should be P70,000.)

Gok-ong pointed out that large-volume sellers are disproportionately affected.

“Ang kanang P15,000 magdepende gyud na sa halin sa retailer kung kusog o hinay. Pero kadtong mga lugar nga kusog mohalin unya mobaligya og P41 or P45, kuwangon ang P15,000. Pero kadtong uban nga makahalin lang og duha ka sako o tulo ka sako sa usa ka adlaw, makaigo rana ang P15,000,” he said.

(The P15,000 really hinges on a retailer’s sales volume, whether it’s substantial or modest. In areas where sales are robust, and rice is sold for P41 or P45 per kilo, P15,000 falls short. However, for those who only sell two or three sacks a day, P15,000 suffices.)

Last Sept. 3, the National Economic and Development Authority announced that the imposition of the price cap was a temporary measure to derail the skyrocketing prices of rice in local markets.

On Monday, Sept. 11, Ines Cajegas, chief trade industry development specialist of the Consumer Protection Division of the Department of Trade and Industry Cebu Province, said the price cap will remain until President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. lifts the order.

Gok-ong said that looking for suppliers of regular-milled rice has become challenging.

However, Cajegas attributed this to the fact that the country’s harvest season for rice doesn’t start until the end of September and onwards.

Jennifer Calago, a rice retailer at the T. Padilla Public Market in Barangay T. Padilla, Cebu City, told SunStar Cebu on Tuesday that they have lowered the price of well-milled rice from P49 to P45 kilo. However, she said they continue to sell regular-milled rice at P51 per kilo because they got it from their supplier for a high price.

She said prices of premium rice variants, which are not covered by EO 39, remain high. An imported premium brand like Doña Conchita Orange from Vietnam sells for P59 per kilo, she said.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development through its Sustainable Livelihood Program will start distributing the cash assistance to qualified rice retailers in Central Visayas on Thursday, Sept. 14.

Qualified sari-sari store vendors will also receive P5,000.

The payout venues in Cebu are the Carbon Public Market in Cebu City, Consolacion Public Market in the north and the Minglanilla Public Market in the south.

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