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Supermarkets expect steady prices if manufacturers don’t charge more

BASIC GOODS prices are not expected to rise at retail level if manufacturers continue to hold their prices steady, supermarket operators said.

“As long as there is no notice from manufacturers saying they will increase prices, then retailers won’t do so,” Steven T. Cua, Philippine Amalgamated Supermarkets Association (PAGASA) president, told BusinessWorld by phone. “(If) there are no increases (in costs) coming from the supplier side, then there is no reason to increase prices in supermarkets.”

House legislators met with officials from the agriculture and retail industries to discuss potential measures to hold down food costs, after March inflation accelerated to 5.7%, the strongest reading in four months.

“So far, manufacturers assured us they will not do a price increase (on basic commodities), Party-list Rep. Erwin T. Tulfo said on the sidelines of a media conference discussing potential measures to prevent prices of essential goods from increasing.

Basic commodities include canned meat, sardines, noodles, bread, and milk, according to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

However, manufacturers did not say how long they will hold the line on prices of basic goods. “They did not provide a commitment,” he said.

“I suppose supermarkets can hold off a price increase on the goods for a few more months,” he added.

Mr. Cua said on the sidelines of the same conference that a wage hike could bring the cost of goods higher. “The next threat would be a legislated wage increase. It is a double-whammy; manufacturers would have to increase prices and when it comes to (supermarket operators), we will have to increase as well.”

The House of Representatives is still deliberating at the committee level proposed measures seeking an across-the-board minimum wage hike ranging from P150 to P750. The Senate has approved its version of such a bill pro-posing a P100 wage increase in February. — Kenneth Christiane L. Basilio