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A closer watch on rising prices

WE have not been much concerned about the fall in the value of the peso in relation to the dollar. After all, it was pointed out, it meant more money for the families of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) whose dollar remittances are now worth many more pesos than before.

But the drop in the peso’s value also means everything we import now costs more – food, liquor, clothes, appliances, etc. Most Filipinos would not be concerned about these imported goods, until we realize that there is one imported item that affects all of us, including the poorest of the poor. That is crude oil with its derivatives – gasoline, diesel, kerosene, liquid petroleum gas (LPG), etc.

Diesel and gasoline are needed to run cargo trucks that bring in food from the countryside to the cities like Metro Manila. They are needed to run the power generators that produce some of our electricity. They are needed to run the passenger buses and jeepneys people take to go to work or to school. Thus each time, prices go up in fuel stations, there are calls for fare increases.

The problem of oil prices has further worsened with the recent decision of the oil-producing countries which are members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) like Saudi Arabia to reduce their daily production, so as to increase world prices, in accordance with the law of supply and demand.

The OPEC decision has combined with the drop in the value of the Philippine peso to cause local prices to rise. We are now also in the middle of the Christmas season when people buy many more things than usual – food, clothes, gifts, decorations for the home.

It is unfortunate that we have this confluence of events here and abroad that serve to drive prices up but our people have long been able to adjust to difficult circumstances. We just hope the government concerned will be on special alert and take special steps to minimize the ill effects of these events and be ready to stop unscrupulous sectors who might take advantage of the situation. The Department of Trade and Industry, in particular, will have to keep closer watch on prices in the country’s markets and quickly move should they rise above the set prices ranges.