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Marcos orders close monitoring of rice retail prices

Metro Manila, August 17 ------ President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. wants close monitoring of rice prices in markets and directed the agriculture and trade departments to take the lead, Malacañang said.

The crackdown against possible overpricing is in response to soaring grain prices in light of supposed supply tightness, even as the government has assured that the country has enough rice into the next year.

In a statement, the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said “the president will go after hoarders and price manipulators who take advantage of the lean months before harvest season.” "Rice supply is sufficient. Prices are, however, very variable. The government is working with the private sector to rationalize the prices and make available affordable rice in the market and in Kadiwa (stores)," the PCO said, quoting Marcos.

Rice is selling for ₱50 to ₱62 per kilogram in Metro Manila markets, and prices may reach ₱60 to ₱65 next week. Agricultural groups pin the blame on a rice cartel among traders, importers, and millers. In a House committee hearing on Wednesday, agriculture officials recommended the importation of rice as a stopgap measure and to shore up stocks.

They also urged the private sector to bring in 300,000 metric tons of rice by the end of August, and another 300,000 metric tons by the first to second week of September. Marcos earlier assured farmers that the government will not import rice as long as there is enough supply.



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