THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) counseled calm—for now—as the price hike on basic necessities and prime commodities due to Ukraine-Russia conflict will only be felt after three months.
At a Laging Handa briefing on Monday, Trade Undersecretary Ruth Castelo said that they will not yet release an updated suggested retail price (SRP) bulletin to reflect the impact of the rising fuel prices on the manufacturing of goods.
“We want to assure the public that the prices of the basic goods …whether we like it or not, will be affected but the impact is not immediate. We are looking at the next three months before the current situation in Europe will impact the consumer prices in the country,” she said in a mix of Filipino and English.
Salceda: impact is now
An economist-lawmaker on Monday warned, however, that Filipino families may now feel the increase in basic commodity prices amid the rising fuel costs.
In his presentation at the special hearing of the Fuel Crisis Ad Hoc Committee, House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Joey Sarte Salceda said rising fuel costs could drive prices higher, affecting basic goods.
According to Salceda, the current $110 per barrel level could push regular milled rice prices by P0.26 per kilo, pork lean meat by P0.74 per kilo, refined sugar by P0.14 per kilo, galunggong by P4.03 per kilo, sardines P0.03 per 155 grams can and bread by P0.16 per 450 grams loaf.
Salceda, meanwhile, said it could also stroke electricity prices by P38.81 for consuming 200 KWH considering the current $110 per barrel level.
He said jeepney fare may also increase by P1.62 for first 5 kilometers and tricycle fare by P2.21.
“[This increase is temporary as] JPMorgan said crude oil prices may hit $189 per barrel while others say it can reach $200 [per barrel],” said Salceda.
Also, Salceda said this fuel crisis could raise inflation rate by 0.6 percent to 1 percent.
Last week, the Department of Trade and Industry said no manufacturers have so far asked for an increase in suggested retail prices (SRP) for basic goods and commodities amid the fuel price hike induced by the Ukraine-Russia conflict.
At the same time, Castelo said the country still has enough supply of goods.
She explained that the stock inventory of the food manufacturers would last between 30 days to 90 days. This means that the fuel price hike is not yet reflected on the finished goods.
“We have enough supply. Hindi po kailangang magpanic ng mga tao [There is no need for the public to panic],” she said.
Should there be a price hike, the DTI official said they are tempering the increase, asking the manufacturers to go slow on requesting higher SRP given the current pandemic as well.
Castelo also said earlier that they “validate” the price hike and negotiate if the increase is too much of a burden for the consumers.
In January, the DTI released the updated SRP list for basic necessities and prime commodities for 216 shelf keeping units (SKUs), 73 of which saw an increase.
The products that saw an SRP hike include canned sardines, processed milk, bread, instant noodles, salt, detergent soap, bottled water, candles, processed canned meat and canned beef, toilet soap and battery. Some 20 of them saw 1-5 percent increase, 43 registered 6-10 percent increase while the remaining 10 SKUs had over 10-percent hike.
Foreign biz groups
Meanwhile, foreign business chambers released a statement on Monday condemning the “military aggression brought upon Ukraine by the Russian President Putin.”
“As committed partners of the European Union and the United Nations in upholding the UN Charter and the fundamental principles of international law, we support the calls for the cessation of the use of force against Ukraine, and express our solidarity with the Ukrainian people as they fight for their independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity,” they said.
The foreign business groups said that both the security of the people and the global economy are at risk because of the said conflict.
For example, they said the situation can trigger adverse impact on global consumer prices and supply of commodities.
“As such, we strongly urge compliance to international law and resort to the peaceful settlement of international disputes, respecting the principle of sovereignty and territorial integrity. We particularly support the utilization of peaceful negotiations as a diplomatic tool to address the Ukraine crisis,” they said.
Signatories include the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, British Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the Philippines, Dutch Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Philippine-Swiss Business School, Nordic Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines and Spanish Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines.
With Jovee Marie N. dela Cruz
Image credits: Nonie Reyes