Qualified small rice retailers affected by the mandated price ceilings on rice in the country are expected to receive financial assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), according to Secretary Rex Gatchalian.
In an interview with the press, Secretary Gatchalian said President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has instructed them to utilize their sustainable livelihood program to assist rice traders and retailers under the “capital build-up” mandate of the program.
“Napag-usapan namin ng Pangulo kaninang umaga na gagamitin ulit ‘yung sustainable livelihood program ng DSWD para naman magtulungan ‘yung ating mga maliliit na mga retailers na naapektuhan nitong pansamantala na Executive Order o ‘yung price cap sa bigas,” Gatchalian said.
Only small rice traders and retailers, or the vulnerable groups will receive the government’s aid, according to Gatchalian.
The sustainable livelihood program of the DSWD has three important mandates such as the start-up capital, which is intended for those who wish to start a small business; the capital build for cases similar to the effects of the EO 39 to small businessmen; and the employment grants.
“So ang gagamitin natin dito ‘yung capital build-up kasi alam naman natin maapektuhan ang kapital ng mga maliliit nating mga rice retailers kaya kailangang pumasok ang DSWD sa utos ng ating Pangulo para masigurado natin na ‘yung kapital nila hindi mauubos o hindi makain kaagad itong nangyayaring Executive Order,” Gatchalian said.
Gatchalian pointed out that the DSWD has a ready mechanism for the sustainable livelihood program because the agency used the same during the Boracay rehabilitation and Covid-19 pandemic.
Before leaving for Indonesia on Monday , President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) will be coming up with a list of the affected rice traders and rice retailers who will receive the government’s assistance.
President Marcos ordered the DSWD to provide the necessary assistance.
Secretary Gatchalian said they will immediately provide the necessary assistance once they receive the verified list from the DTI and the DA. He emphasized that they are ready to start the payout nationwide.
“Ready ‘yung mekanismo ng DSWD para sa payout. Hinihintay na lang natin ‘yung listahan mula sa concerned agencies. Pero kanina nga sabi ng Pangulo doon sa aming tatlo na mga ahensiya na involved, bilisan ang pagkilos,” Gatchalian said, referring to the DA and DTI.
The DSWD chief said they do not expect the financial assistance “to be very long” since the implementation of the mandated rice price ceilings is only temporary, or a “stopgap measure” to lower the prices of the staple food.
President Marcos met with the DTI, DA, DSWD, and other officials before departing for Indonesia to ensure that necessary government assistance will be provided to affected rice retailers and traders across the country. PND