Agri chief vows sanctions vs. rice profiteers
By Catherine Teves
MANILA (Philippines News Agency) — Traders caught selling rice at prices higher than the government’s suggested retail price (SRP) can lose their license, face jail time, and pay a fine of up to PHP1 million, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol warned on Saturday.
The government will start imposing the penalties on violators once the guidelines take effect, Piñol said during the launch of the rice SRP guidelines for Metro Manila and Greater Manila Area covering the provinces of Bulacan, Laguna, and Cavite.
National Food Authority (NFA) Memorandum Circular AO-2018-10-002 dated Oct. 24, 2018 states that the guidelines will take effect 15 days following its publication in a newspaper of general circulation and upon registration with the University of the Philippines Law Center.
A national broadsheet published the guidelines last Oct. 26, noted the NFA, which is now under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture (DA).
Meanwhile, NFA Circular OCS-2018-J-01 classified rice as either regular-milled, well-milled, premium, or special.
“There will no longer be names like ‘angelica’ and ‘sinandomeng’ for rice sold to the public,” said Piñol, who signed both circulars as chairperson of the NFA Council.
Excluded from SRP coverage are special rice varieties, such as those produced in the uplands, he said.
The SRPs for local regular-milled, well-milled and premium rice are PHP39, PHP44 and PHP47, respectively, based on NFA Circular OCS-2018-J-01.
The circular also said the SRP for imported well-milled rice is PHP39. “However, there’s no imported regular-milled rice,” NFA Quality Assurance Division assistant chief Mario Andrada said on the sidelines of the launch held at the Commonwealth Market, along Commonwealth Ave., Quezon City.
Andrada noted that imported premium rice has either 2 percent broken grains (PG1) with an SRP of PHP43, or up to 5 percent broken grains (PG2) to be sold at PHP40.
Piñol said the government has set the SRPs for rice to help protect consumers from profiteers.
In setting the SRPs, he said, the government considered not just production and related costs but profit as well, so rice traders must not over-charge consumers.
The rule of thumb is to multiply palay price by two to determine the selling price of rice, he said.
“That means if traders bought palay at PHP18 per kg., the selling price must be PHP36 only,” he said. (PNA)