By Victoria “NIKE” De Dios
Amid ongoing global inflation, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is intensifying the implementation of policies and programs aimed at curbing the trend of increasing prices.
The DTI is now focused on four key areas: (1) Consumer prices, (2) Logistics and supply chain management, (3) Investment promotion, and (4) Partnership with other government agencies.
For one, the DTI-Consumer Protection Group (DTI-CPG), which spearheads the management of consumer prices, is taking charge of law enforcement to protect consumers, consumer education, and the formation of consumer groups.
Further, the Consumer Policy and Advocacy Bureau (CPAB) and the Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau (FTEB) regularly monitors the implementation/ enforcement of Automatic Price Control for basic necessities and prime commodities (BNPCs) areas affected by calamities, disasters, or declared under state of emergency.
To manage prices, the DTI is closely coordinating with manufacturers to ensure the steady supply and reasonable pricing of BNPCs, not only during periods of crisis but also during non-crises periods.
The DTI’s e-Presyo Application ensures that consumers are informed of the prevailing prices of BNPCs to help them make informed market choices.
To also prevent the creation of artificial inflation in the market, the DTI has issued Memorandum Circular Nos. 20-07 and 20-10 on Anti-Hoarding and Panic Buying.
DTI Secretary Fred Pascual also shared that, “the DTI continues to capacitate Local Price Coordinating Councils to enforce monitoring, compliance, and accountability of all stakeholders at various supply chain stages, including market masters, administrators, retailers, and wholesalers. Along with this, our monitoring taskforce conducts regular price and supply monitoring of BNPCs, ensuring accessibility of affordable goods.”
Along with these initiatives to manage consumer prices, Secretary Pascual, as the Chair of the National Price Coordinating Council (NPCC), and in partnership with the Department of Agriculture (DA), also launched the Ikot Palengke Program in November 2022, which facilitated the monitoring of prices and supply of agricultural products in selected wet markets as well as manufactured products in supermarkets. “Since the launch of the Ikot Palengke, we have already visited four areas: Marikina, Manila, Pasig, and Makati. Sa pag-iikot natin sa palengke, sinisiguro natin na sumusunod sa tamang presyo at timbang ang mga tindera para hindi rin mabiktima ang mga konsyumer“, Secretary Pascual said.
To further provide access to affordable agricultural and manufactured BNPCs, Diskwento Caravans and rolling stores were also launched in partnership with the Department of Agriculture (DA), Local Government Units (LGUs), and various micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). The DTI also participated in President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s Kadiwa ng Pasko Program, which brought together DA’s Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita, DTI’s Diskwento Caravan, and assistance programs of the Department of Social Welfare and Development and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
“Not only do we have to manage consumer prices, critical to this is the reduction of logistics costs and also the streamlining of our country’s supply chains. For this, we have the Supply Chain and Logistics Management Division under DTI that is working to lower logistics costs and simplify the transport of products from the point of origin to its destination. Pag na manage natin ito, mababawasan rin ‘yung mga additional operational expenses ng mga manufacturers“, Secretary Pascual added.
To develop the country’s logistics infrastructure, the DTI inked the following agreements with the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH): (1) DTI-DPWH Convergence Program on Logistics Efficiency and Transport Seamlessness to Enhance Agribusiness Trade (LETS-EAT), (2) DTI-DOTr Convergence Program on Logistics Efficiency and Transport Seamlessness for Growth Outcomes (LETS GO), and (3) DOTr-Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) & DTI-FTEB Memorandum of Agreement on the Harmonization of Sea Freight and Air Freight Accreditation.
Furthermore, DTI, DA, DPWH, DILG, and DOTr are currently developing the 3-Year Food Logistics Plan, which aims to ensure the unhampered movement of goods, especially food items, and reduce transport and logistics costs of agri-commodities.
The DTI also endeavors to gather more investments in the country as investments in agriculture and power projects are seen to contribute greatly in addressing inflation by providing alternative and locally-available sources of energy and food. The DTI, through the Board of Investments (BOI), continues to encourage investments related to food security and green ecosystems under Tier II of the Strategic Investment Priority Plan (SIPP). Eligible projects may qualify and avail of incentives which include 5-7 years of Income Tax Holiday (ITH) and 5-10 years of Enhanced Deductions (ED) or Special Corporate Income Tax (SCIT), depending on location and market orientation).
Secretary Pascual also noted that, “the inclusion of food security as one of the priority sectors aims to spur the production of agriculture and other food-related products, as well as its support services such as cold chains and cold storage facilities.”
The DTI also collaborates with other government agencies such as the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) to conduct inquiries, investigate, and hear and decide cases involving anti-competitive conduct.
Curbing inflation and ensuring food security must be done through a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach, which Secretary Fred Pascual aims to accomplish as the Chairperson of the National Price Coordinating Council (NPCC). Fiscal and monetary policies must be in place to curb inflation, which are spearheaded by government financial institutions. However, the DTI can contribute solutions by managing the impacts of inflation towards consumers.