The cash aid being provided by the government to rice retailers would greatly help small businesses overcome the effects of Executive Order (EO) No. 39 while the country awaits the palay harvest season, rice retailers said Monday.

This developed as the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) began the payout of Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) cash assistance for micro rice retailers in Parañaque City.

Simultaneous distribution of the cash aid was also held in Navotas City and in Zamboanga del Sur.  On the other hand, Mayor Miguel Ponce III of Pateros requested to re-schedule the payout in his locality on Tuesday, Sept. 12.

“Malaking tulong sa amin ‘yung ibinigay na ayuda,” according Evangeline de Rojas, a rice retailer from Navotas.

Social Welfare Secretary Rex Gatchalian said that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) started providing livelihood grant to micro and small rice retailers last Saturday in Quezon City, the cities of San Juan and Caloocan. Around 300 retailers received P15,000 each.

As part of this continuing effort, the government targets to provide cash aid to some 400 rice retailers in Parañaque and Navotas Cities and Zamboanga del Sur on Monday.

Gatchalian said that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is studying extending similar assistance to small sari-sari store owners, as he described the recent aid distribution as “very smooth.”

“Mas gusto sana natin na ang DTI ay magbigay ng mas maraming listahan para simultaneous nationwide, pwedeng gawin iyan [pamamahagi ng ayuda],” Gatchalian told Gising Pilipinas Program on DWPM.

The government allotted an estimated P1 billion for the grant of assistance to cash aid beneficiaries who are qualified retailers identified by the DTI.

The provision of assistance is in line with the directives of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to assist small-scale business owners who have been directly impacted by the imposition of rice price ceilings.

Citing the Department of Agriculture (DA), Gatchalian said major rice producing areas have started their palay harvest that will result in expected drop in rice prices soon as more supply enter the market.

President Marcos issued EO No. 39, putting a price cap on rice in the effort to ease off the increasing price of the staple caused by hoarding and price manipulation.

Under EO 39, the mandated price of regular milled rice is PhP41 per kilogram while well-milled rice should be sold at PhP45 per kilogram. | PND