The price ceiling on pork and chicken stays, as it has undeniably contributed to taming the price surge of said two main food items, benefiting millions of Filipino consumers, particularly in Metro Manila, said Agriculture Secretary William Dar.
“We will maintain it in the remaining days until April 8, as prescribed under E0 124,” the DA chief added.
“Lifting it will undeniably result in a dramatic rise in prices of pork and chicken, given that the African Swine Fever (ASF) crisis is still raging and thus continues to impact on local production of hogs nationwide,” Secretary Dar said.
“That is why we need to augment the current shortfall, estimated at 400,000 metric tons this year, from ASF-free countries,” he added.
As the inflation rate again rose in February at 4.7 percent (versus 4.2 percent in January), he said it is incumbent upon the Duterte government to take all necessary measures to check inflationary pressure to protect low-income households, particularly the poor, who are hurt most — because high inflation further fritters away the value of their already small income.
Further, on the suggestion of hog raisers to raise the price ceiling, he said it would be a redundant measure given that the actual average pork and chicken prices are higher than the ceiling imposed by EO 124.
He added that it is not far-fetched that if the price ceiling is raised to a new level, industry players will hike their prices once again, emboldened by the knowledge that they are capable of pressuring the government to change its mind.
In the meantime, consumers will be fretting that the government is not really serious in protecting their interests, Secretary Dar said.
Though the price ceiling may not ensure full compliance by the traders and retailers, it is still an effective deterrent against unscrupulous trading activities, the DA chief said.
EO 124 will lapse on April 8, barely a month from now. “By maintaining it, the government will send a strong signal to Filipino consumers — who suffer from lower incomes due to the adverse impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on our economy — that it does care about their welfare,” he said.
“Hog producers, wholesalers, and retailers are no less expected to do their share in helping the country’s economic recovery effort,” he added. ■