PRICES of basic commodities rose gradually up to the holidays in December, which was understandable as demand also increased. Expectedly, they should have gone down a bit by this month as the economy’s pandemic reality surfaces again.
Early this month, Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez said the department is not considering any price increase on basic necessities and prime commodities. Big retailers concurred.
The Philippines Amalgamated Supermarkets Associated president Steven Cua said we are in a recession. What should be the point in increasing prices with a market that is either out of job or with stifled budget.
“Let’s slowly but surely pry ourselves out of this mud,” Cua said.
Sadly, though, a quick pry out of the mud says otherwise. The public is taken aback by the exorbitant prices of basic commodities in our supermarkets. A kilo of pork, for instance, is priced at an average of P300. Vegetables and fruits are priced almost twice than the usual.
Earlier, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Undersecretary Ruth Castelo disclosed that the department had already approved a nine percent increase in some brands of canned meat, condiments, coffee, sardines, milk products and detergents.
So we now have a fatal combination of an increased unemployment rate and an unbridled rise in the price of basic needs. The economy is in a bind: We have workers demanding wage increase and we have employers who needed to recover and could not grant pay hikes.
The Employers Confederation of the Philippines said that while it understands the plight of workers, a staggering business climate simply could not afford it.
Government is now focusing on job creation as a way to balance the economy. The optimism comes from the nature of economies quickly recovering once mobility resumes.
Meantime, though, government must strictly monitor unscrupulous businesses that are unreasonably jacking up prices of basic commodities. Our lawmakers can investigate the unbridled increases and perhaps go to the extent of examining policies that address this problem.
Otherwise, we’ll have a citizenry that will be stuck deep in the mud along with the economy.