MANILA — The government on Wednesday warned unscrupulous traders that they will be punished if they jack up prices of basic food items.
“The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is closely monitoring and conducting surveillance of basic food prices and will strictly enforce anti-profiteering measures on retail outlets,” said Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. in a press briefing.
Coloma said there are penalties for profiteers, including imprisonment.
He said members of the National Price Coordinating Council (NPCC) will meet Wednesday afternoon to discuss the food supply situation and concrete actions to protect the public from unreasonably high prices.
Coloma said NPCC has the responsibility to prevent profiteering at the retail level.
The NPCC comprises the DTI, Departments of Agriculture, Health, Environment and Natural Resources, Interior and Local Government, Transportation and Communications, Justice and Energy and the National Economic Development Authority.
The consumers’ sector, agricultural producers’ sector, trading sector and manufacturers’ sector have also one representative each in the council.
“So what we would like to do is to be able to get inputs from all of the stakeholders in this process and to assure that we have reliable data and information on food supply and food prices,” Coloma said.
Further, Coloma said the council is also mulling the possibility of issuing suggested retail prices for agricultural products.
“Kukunin muna ng konsehong ito ang mga suhestiyon ng iba’t ibang sektor, lalong-lalo na diyan sa mga pinagtutuunan ng pansin na mga basic food items (The council will gather suggestions of different sectors pertaining to concerned basic food items),” he said, referring to sugar, rice and garlic.
Coloma reassured the consumers that the government is continuing its efforts to ensure stable food supply and prices in the country.