Gov’t urged to ease customs procedures for imported face masks

Consumer advocate Laban Konsyumer Inc. (LKI) has proposed easing customs procedures for imported face masks to lower its prices amid rising demand for the product due to the current coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid 19).

In a text message Thursday, LKI President Victorio Mario Dimagiba urged the government to waive tariff on raw materials for face masks production, on top of relaxing customs entry procedures for the product and its raw materials.

Dimagiba said surgical masks' prices should decline once the government waives tariff for raw materials of face masks, while the lone local manufacturer has production capacity.

There is only one local manufacturer of face masks in the country, Medtecs International Corp. Ltd., which committed to supplying 2 million pieces of surgical masks per month.

If demand is high and production has capacity to produce the quantity demanded, there is economy of scale, and price should go down instead of up, he said.

Suggested retail price (SRP) for surgical face masks is between PHP1 and PHP8.

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez earlier said his department was studying the current SRP for surgical face masks because of the higher cost of the product abroad.

Lopez told the Philippines News Agency that Medtecs is currently finalizing its deals with drugstores to supply them with face masks.

They prioritized the health workers and demands from DOH (Department of Health) and Red Cross, he said.

Many major drugstores, particularly in Metro Manila and nearby provinces, have limited to no available face masks since the DOH confirmed the first case of the Covid 19 in the country. Demand and prices have surged by then.

Medtecs already produced 125,000 pieces of N88 masks, of which 70,000 pieces were delivered to the DOH and regional offices of DTI.

Another 80,000 pieces will be produced and will be distributed to 100 Red Cross offices nationwide, the DTI said.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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