Press Release
May 19, 2006


Because of the hard times, consumers are not buying as much as they used to, a reality that manufacturers, retailers, and market vendors admit led them to absorb higher costs in order to stay in business.

Tighter controls over spending habits are felt despite reports on increasing incomes attributed to good harvest and high market value of copra, rice, and corn.

This was the observation Senator Mar Roxas, also known as Mr. Palengke, elicited from manufacturers, traders, retailers, hog and poultry raisers, and market vendors who attended the joint meeting of the Senate committees on trade and industry and commerce the other day to assess the consumer market situation.

Roxas, who chairs both committees, said after the meeting: Consumer prices remain stable because even if producers want to raise prices, they cant because demand is sluggish.

People are not buying as much as they used to, he added, noting the observation that many Filipinos now buy smaller portions of meat, rice, and other commodities. This, he said, is the hidden story behind stable prices.

Kapansin-pansin na ang dami ng binibili ngayon ng mga mamimili ay kalahati na lang noong binibili nila dati. Iyong dating bumibili ng isang kilo, halimbawa, ay kalahating-kilo na lang, at iyong bumibili ng isang bote ay sa sachet na lang. Pati sa palengke, yong mga processed products ay unti-unti nang nawawala kasi hindi mabili at matumal ang demand sa mga produkto, ani Roxas.

Roxas said that instead of allocating more for food, much of the peoples extra incomes go to pay off water and electricity, transport fare, and education expenses.

Peoples incomes are being eroded by high costs of utilities and escalating costs in health and education, he said.

The senator said consumer spending would remain tight given the prognosis of oil companies that fuel prices will remain high for another three to five years.

The need for safety nets especially for minimum wage earners and the informal sector cannot be overly emphasized, Roxas stressed, adding that the joint committee hearings will help the government and private sector in putting in place a common agenda for survival during these financially tough times.

Senator Roxas pointed out that gains in the financial sector because of the VAT Reform Law have yet to register in the real economy through lower prices of imported goods and commodities with high import content, and reduced interest rates for consumer loans.

This should be an urgent priority of government. The use of additional revenues accruing from higher VAT must be carefully planned in a transparent, inclusive manner so that the ordinary consumer is assured of more benefits and better services from the government, Roxas said.

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