In recent years, the issue of food security has become a global concern. In the Philippines, a country heavily reliant on rice as a staple food, ensuring affordable access to this essential grain is paramount.
Rice is not merely a dietary choice in the Philippines; it is a way of life. However, rising prices of rice recently have created significant challenges for Filipino households, particularly those with limited income. The need for government intervention to stabilize rice prices and ensure affordability is undeniable.
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On September 1, Executive Order No. 39 was released through President Bongbong Marcos Jr.’s approval, this EO shall prescribed a price ceiling on regular milled rice and well-milled rice nationwide and shall ensure the reasonable and accessible price amidst the alarming hikes in their retail prices in the market.
A price ceiling on rice aims to address food insecurity by making rice more affordable for all socioeconomic groups, it has come under the monitoring of Department of Agriculture that the highest price of local regular milled rice in National Capital Region’s market was at P42- P55 pee kilo while local well-milled rice was being sold at P48 to P56 per kilo.
To address this, last Thursday, August 31, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin signed the EO that capped the price of regular milled rice at P41 per killo while the price of well-milled rice was capped at P45 pesos per kilo.
This policy can help vulnerable populations, such as low-income families and marginalized communities, access this vital food source. The implementation shall take effect starting September 5, and will continue to be implemented unless otherwise withdrew by PBBM upon the reccommendation of Price Coordinating Council of Department of Trade and Industry.
A price ceiling serves as a safeguard against unscrupulous practices by rice retailers, preventing price gouging during times of shortage or inflation. In an unplanned press conference in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Marcos urged the public to alert the police to any stores selling rice above the legal limit.
The DA, DTI, Interior Department, and Department of Justice would oversee the monitoring of rice prices at marketplaces, according to the President. The execution of price ceilings “is not so bad outside” the National Capital Region, he claimed, therefore monitoring efforts will be concentrated there.
If it comes to that, PBBM encouraged anyone who finds that someone or a retailer is selling at above the price ceiling to report it to the police, in their respective DA, or with their local government.
According to the National Economic and Development Authority, rising demand and a limited supply caused the price of rice to rise from 1 percent in January 2022 to 4.2 percent in July 2023 as other nations tried to enhance their supplies in anticipation of El Nino.
Marcos has given the DA and DTI instructions to make sure the legislated price ceilings are strictly followed, to monitor and look into any unusual price movements of rice in the market, and to aid impacted retailers with the aid of the Department of Interior and Local Government.
Additionally, the President has instructed the Philippine Competition Commission to take action against cartels and those who abuse their market authority.
The DA previously stated that the second semester’s rice supply might total 10.15 million metric tons, which would be sufficient to meet the present demand of 7.76 MMT.
Lower rice prices can alleviate the financial burden on low-income families, helping them make ends meet more effectively. By putting money back into the hands of the poor, this policy may have positive spillover effects on various sectors of the economy.
While a price ceiling on rice has its merits, it is not without challenges and potential drawbacks. Implementing a price ceiling may disrupt the supply and demand dynamics of the rice market.
Farmers may be discouraged from producing rice if they cannot sell it at a profitable price, potentially leading to a decrease in domestic rice production.