So the government just announced price ceilings for rice starting Sept. 5. Executive Order 39, issued by President Marcos Jr., put a price ceiling for regular milled rice at P41, while well-milled rice should not be sold for more than P45.
This move was obviously made to comply with an election promise that if elected, the price of rice would go back to P20 per kilo.
Well, the price cap is still way beyond the promised P20 per kilo but at least, the people would hopefully stop equating the President’s initials to mean Bugas Baling Mahala.
Prices of rice at the Dumaguete City Public Market, however, are still way above the price cap. A quick check showed that rice is still priced at P49 or P50 per kilo.
Rice retailers argue they would be on the losing end if they sell based on the mandated price cap because they bought their rice for a higher amount before the price cap was announced.
They explain that aside from finding a cheaper rice source, more of them continue to wait for the government’s promised P15,000 subsidy for rice retailers who will definitely lose money because of the price cap.
It was true then, and it can still be true now that the price of rice could make or unmake one’s candidacy for public office.
But instead of finding solutions on the supply side, the government chose to announce the price cap — if only to fulfill a campaign promise.
Last Thursday, 63 rice traders from Negros Oriental received their P15,000 government assistance in a bid to compel them to sell rice at a low price.
Will the government assistance convince these rice retailers to sell at a loss? Or will the retailers just keep their prices low until the backs of the government regulators are turned?
We can only hope government will get it right this time.