Trade officials will meet with manufacturers of basic necessities and prime commodities next week to try to talk them out of pushing for price increases as well as discuss ways the government can help to bring down their costs.

'Let's look at how we can bring down the cost of production,' Department of Trade assistant secretary Jean Pacheco said yesterday over radio dzBB, citing marching orders from Secretary Alfredo Pascual to have the costs of production reduced.

She explained that under the Price Act, the government is mandated to promulgate measures to promote productivity in basic necessities and prime commodities and develop an improved and efficient transport system.

'That is what we are focusing on,' Pacheco said. She added it was Pascual's idea that trade officials talk to manufacturers and ask them where the government can come in to help bring down their costs of production.

'We will talk to them next week,' she said without giving an exact date.

On Friday, the DTI confirmed 14 pending price increase requests from manufacturers. Pacheco, however, clarified that these are not new requests.

DTI said its consumer protection and advocacy bureau is still studying the price increase petitions.

Last month, Consumer Protection Group Undersecretary Ruth Castelo revealed 13 pending price increases covering a total of 43 shelf-keeping units.

These include products such as canned sardines, evaporated milk, powdered milk, coffee, instant noodles, bottled water and canned meat.

Castelo said manufacturers of food items are requesting a one percent to five percent price increase or from P0.10 to P7.27.

Non-food item manufacturers are requesting for a six percent to 10 percent price increase or from P1.50 to P9.75.

Asked about the reasons stated by manufacturers for the price increase requests, Castelo said they cited high raw material costs, especially of those being imported.

Castelo stressed that the DTI has a mechanism for verifying price increase requests.

The trade official said earlier they did not expect any price increases in the near future, or at least until a new suggested retail price (SRP) bulletin for BNPCs is released.

Under Republic Act 7581 or the Price Act, as amended, the DTI is mandated to issue the SRP Bulletin of BNPCs under its jurisdiction for the information and guidance of manufacturers, distributors and consumers.

The latest SRP bulletin from the DTI was published on Feb. 8 and remains in effect.

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