Loren urges compromise on price-setting of basic goods

PNS — Senator Loren Legarda said today that for the sake of consumers, retailers and manufacturers of goods must come to terms with the government in setting the fair market prices of basic commodities.

Loren issued the statement in reaction to the threat of the Philippine Association of Supermarkets Inc. (PASI) to pull out items from grocery shelves which the government requires to be sold at lower prices in view of the recent calamities that hit the country.

“A balance must be struck. On the one hand, government must ensure against overpricing while producers and manufacturers cannot be forced to sell goods at prices below the cost of production and distribution,” she said.

The chair of the Senate Committees on Agriculture and Food, Loren urged the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to dialogue with all parties involved in the issue, especially the consumers, producers and retailers to come up with a solution acceptable to all.

“No business would survive selling at a loss. Thus, government must ensure that the prices of basic commodities it had set are realistic and would not do more harm than good, such as when it results to businesses shutting down and to jobs being lost,” Loren added.

At the same time, Loren appealed to producers and retailers of basic commodities to look beyond their bottom line and to “shun profiteering and the illegal practice of hoarding during these trying times.”

“They have a social responsibility and retailers, for example, cannot hold government and our people hostage by making threats such as just pulling out goods from grocery shelves.”

“It is not all about profit margins. It is about the social responsibility of corporate entities,” she said.

Store owners had said that they would rather return inventories of rice, canned goods, powdered milk, batteries and laundry soap to manufacturers rather than sell them at a loss or risk being charged with overpricing by government.