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Keep close watch on prices & help avert profiteering

Between now and January 15, the consuming public must keep close watch on prices of various goods, including sweetened beverages, milk, bread, and soap – commonly purchased items in public markets and grocery stores. While Congress has already enacted the law raising various taxes – the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Act, these increases should affect the market only after the old stocks have been disposed of.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said these old stocks should last until about January 15, some until January 21. The DTI has thus asked the consuming public to help government price inspectors. And even after January 15, the DTI said, the new taxes should not cause too much change in prices. For example, DTI said, a 145-liter bottle of softdrinks now selling at P45 should have no more than a P9 increase to P54. Powdered milk now costing P50 should go up to only P50.10.

These price increases are part of the TRAIN Act which took effect on January 1, 2018. The income tax exemption of minimum wage earners and mid-level wage earners (up to P21,000 a month) constitutes the “reform” part of the law.

Because all these exemptions will result in lower tax collections – about P200 billion – the government raised taxes on new cars, on fuel, on sweetened beverages as a health measure, and on coal to help in the international effort to hold back world temperature rise that is causing so much climate change.

In the course of the year, as the increased taxes are collected, most of them will be spent on infrastructure projects, agriculture, and other economic programs that should boost the national economy. In time, this should improve the lives of our people through more and better jobs, better government service, and aid programs for the poor.

But all that will be mostly in the future. Today, we will have to endure the price increases that affect everyone in the country, the poor more than most. The DTI warning against premature price increases seeks to stop profiteering businesses.

We will now have to endure these many price increases and hope that the economic development that the TRAIN Act seeks to push will soon beat fruit in a stronger nation and a better life for all.