LABAN Konsyumer Inc. (LKI) on Monday urged the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to thoroughly investigate the request of manufacturers to increase the prices of basic goods.
In a letter to Domingo Tolentino Jr, DTI Consumer Protection and Advocacy Bureau (CPAB) director, LKI President Victorio Mario Dimagiba said price increases should be “fended off” until the impact of the oil prices become stable amid the recent attacks on Saudi oil facilities.
Dimagiba also said that prices of raw materials were on a downtrend contrary to some manufacturers’ claim.
“The Laban Konsyumer Inc. an accredited DTI consumer organization, respectfully submits that the bureau thoroughly investigate the basis of such increases. Our research show[s] that the costs of raw materials of tin, coffee, wheat for noodle, tamban [herrings] for sardines, foreign exchange rate and power rates are either flat, stable and as to be pointed out here reduced and lower[ed] for the year 2019,” said Dimagiba.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez earlier disclosed that they were reviewing some companies’ request to increase the prices of canned meat, sardines and noodles.
“There are some [price increase] requests in canned meat, in sardines because of [the increase] in cost of production. Noodles also. Our group is still reviewing,” he said.
Lopez said DTI’s decision would depend on the increase in cost of production.
“The price of fish increased. Fuel prices also. There are also other raw materials like meat and also tin cans. Those are the issues,” Lopez said.
Dimagiba, however, said that based on LKI’s research, which were based on “reliable international data for raw materials,” prices of raw materials decreased this year.
He said data from Cafe Mundi showed that over the period from 2014 to 2019, the cost of coffee went down from $4.8 per kilogram (kg) to $2.5/kg.
Dimagiba cited data from Trading Economics that for tin, prices in 2019 decreased by 14.43 percent.
“For wheat, based on the Minneapolis wheat exchange [MGEX] data for 2019, wheat prices have gone down,” the consumer group official said.
Dimagiba said that based on the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) data, tamban prices also showed a downward pattern this year. Wholesale prices went down from P38.31/kg in November 2018 to P37.46/kg in August this year.
He also noted the Philippine peso to US dollar exchange rate remained firm at P52 pesos per $1, and appreciated to P51 beginning in the third quarter, while power rates of Meralco had gone down for five consecutive months .
“Albeit, the Bureau should consider appropriate rollbacks of the SRP [suggested retail price] of these products. It is the role of LKI to ensure that consumers right to information are heard and that prices are plain and simply reasonable,” Dimagiba said.