March 11, 2011
Ma. Elisa P. Osorio
The European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) said yesterday the government should not implement any form of price control because it will only worsen the current situation of local consumers because the availability of commodities will become a problem.
The Department of Trade and Industry DTI has been very clear that they will not impose price control and will only consider it as a last resort. Instead Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo said they will use "moral suasion" to keep prices steady.
However, ECCP executive vice president Henry Schumacher said any measure that would curtail the free movement of commodities would only worsen the current situation.
"The availability of consumer goods must be the priority. Once price control is imposed, availability will severely suffer," Schumacher said. "The oil companies wheat, millers food processors, and the bakers have no choice but to follow international raw material prices. If caps were to be introduced they would be forced to stop operations. That would be in nobody's interest."
The last time a price control mechanism was imposed in the country was during the term of the late President Corazon Aquino when she signed Executive Order 423 in 1990 which imposed price ceilings on key commodities.
Schumacher said responsible management should be practiced during these times and that delaying price increases due to inventories would not be the correct response.
"It just delays the pain not only in the Philippines but in most countries around the world. We should let market forces dictate the prices of commodities," Schumacher said.
Schumacher said they are supporting the actions of the Department of Energy of not returning to a regulated oil industry as any move to cap prices would put a heavy financial strain on National Government coffers with an estimated 2 billion needed for a price stabilization fund.
He also advised the public to start changing their lifestyle and habits in the face of impending price movements. "Everyone should practice energy conservation and energy efficiency. The public should now be more selective of their modes of transportation and on the land of food they place on the table," Schumacher said.
The ECCP has more than 700 member companies that do business in the country with a large number of them offering consumer based products and services.
Source: The Philippine Star, Business, 10 March 2011