Makers of local products said that the country’s production of goods hardly improves because of widespread corruption and high distribution costs.
Dennis Orlina, president of the Philippine Chamber of Handicraft Industries Inc. (PCHI), said that the government should take notice and should intervene in lowering the distribution costs of local good.
Orlina explained that in Cagayan Valley, rice is pegged at P800 to P850 a 25-kilo sack, but because of corruption in the course of distribution, rice prices go up more than half of the original price.
“It’s the distribution cost which is killing us . . . The trucking of goods down to Metro Manila also has corruption. Every stop has a pay off. And then they would react why rice is prices P1,200 a sack? The other P500 is all on trade and corruption,” Orlina said in Filipino.
He said that same goes with poultry products, for a kilo of chicken is priced at P120 to P150 in wet markets and groceries, while the farm gate price is only at P65.
“We agree on what Mr. Ortiz said that we should be prepared with the Asean [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] integration. But the question is if China will be able to enter [the country]tax free, patay lahat kami [local producers will be wiped out],” Orlina said.
Over the weekend, Philippine Exporters Confederation Inc. (Philexport) President Sergio Ortiz-Luiz Jr. said that Filipino export products are improving 20 percent up to 100 percent in every sector, and that the country is ready for the 2015 Asean integration.
He also said that the domestic market is growing despite the shipments of imported products, in preparation for the 2015 Asean Economic Community.
But Orlina is still pessimistic. “Question: Have you readied yourself for Asean integration? We were not yet ready for anything. People transfer, yes. Our number one export is labor force. In terms of perception, yes. In terms of dollars [coming in into the country], no,” he added.
The Asean economic integration will allow free trade among China, Japan and Asean member-nations. But for the Filipino consumers to patronize locally-made products, Orlina said that the public and the private sectors needs to “market on people” and local manufacturers should “produce something which the market is buying.”
“[For the handicraft industry] We can’t keep on producing baskets that Filipinos made way before we were born,” Orlina said, pressing on local manufacturers and government to work on innovation, upgrade designs and consider green economic initiatives to be able to stand out in the local market.