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Weak demand to keep prices of Christmas products steady– Lopez

              Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said the overall weak demand and economic slowdown will cushion price hikes of basic Christmas products.

“We don’t expect prices to go up this Christmas because first of all demand is weak,” said Lopez in a radio interview citing the low inflation rate at 2.5 percent in August. Nonetheless, he said that companies will come up with their suggested retail prices for Christmas products.

Usually, supply of Noche Buena products come short. The list includes products such as ham, fruit cocktail, cheese, sandwich spread, mayonnaise, keso de bola, spaghetti, macaroni, spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce and creamer.

Amb. Benedicto Yujuico, however, said that the sales performance this Christmas season would be a good indicator of both business and consumer confidence on the economy.

Traditionally, Yujuico said, Christmas shopping revenues top all the shopping seasons in the country.

But Lopez said that businesses are still struggling. Those that just reopened like the manufacturing and non-essential sectors are still at 30 to 40 percent of capacity as they still adjust to the new ways of doing business. But the food manufacturing and the essential sectors that did not close during the quarantine period continued strong growth in their businesses.

“Overall, the economy weakened with GDP at 16.5 percent but hopefully this will go down to single digit by end of the year but still at negative level,” he said adding the domestic economy is expected to return to positive growth path by next year yet.

He said the DTI continues to assist micro and small enterprises to get back to their business and improve the unemployment situation in the country which has already substantially declined to 10 percent in July from a dramatic all-time high of 17.7 percent in April.

During the quarantine period, he cited though the increase in online marketing with over 70,000 DTI registration as of the latest from only over 1,753 from January-March period. While those engaged in the informal sector have not yet registered with the Bureau of Internal Revenue, Lopez said they must do so as they grow their business. The BIR also exempts those enterprises with income of P250,000 and below.

Lopez said that 80 percent of the fund allocation for business establishments under the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act will go to the micro and small enterprises and only a small portion for the medium and large.

Under the P140 billion economic stimulus package of the Bayanihan 2, P4 billion has been allocated to the SB Corporation, the micro financing arm of the government. There are also specifid sectors that get their budget like the tourism with P6 billion, while the Department of Labor and Employment has another allocation.

Micro enterprises, classified as enterprises with P3 million and below, can borrow up to P50,000 with only the barangay certificate as requirement.

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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