BAGUIO CITY (Mar. 28) — Mayor Reinaldo Bautista Jr. Friday said he would ask the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) regional office here to strictly monitor the prices of rice in the city to guard against profiteering, hoarding and other illegal practices that may arise due to the problem hounding the rice industry.
Bautista also appealed to businessmen not to take advantage so as not to exacerbate the plight of consumers already burdened by the rising cost of rice.
Earlier on Thursday, a reported panic-buying caused the Bigasang Bayan at the public market to run out of rice stocks as early as noontime.
Last week, there were growing speculations of a shortage on rice supply fueled by the spiraling cost of the staple grains nationwide.
This has also triggered fears that unscrupulous businessmen may take advantage of the situation to hoard rice stocks or raise selling price at unconscionable levels.
National Food Authority (NFA) provincial Manager Rolando Rufo however said there is nothing to worry as far as rice supply is concerned as the government is doing its best to augment the supply.
“We can assure that there is no rice shortage as there is enough buffer stock which is even expected to be augmented with the harvest season approaching this April and May,” Rufo said.
Rufo said the problem is not on the supply but on the cost of rice which has increased at source due to abnormal rice yield worldwide. However he said that based on his own assessment, the cost of rice will remain steady at the present levels with the arrival of the fresh stocks from the new harvests.
Rufo said that at present, the NFA Baguio-Benguet has a buffer stock of 75,000 bags and more supply is expected within the next months.
Reports said NFA is also mulling to increase the Bigasang Bayan outlets to address the growing demand for the government-subsidized rice. # Aileen P. Refuerzo/PIO