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Wednesday, April 24 2019 @ 07:46 PM UTC

What's That Got To Do With the Price of Rice in Panama?

Money Matters Minister of Farming Development Guillermo Salazar has been clear with rice producers - he will not accept an increase in the price of rice to consumers to offset higher production costs due to rising fuel prices. Rice growers are threatening to raise the price of raw rice by $1.00 per quintal (100 kilograms) that they charge to rice millers. The government's position is that price hike should be absorbed by the millers. They say the additional costs will be offset by increased profits from rice imports. This tactic would keep additional price increases from being passed to consumers. But for Alberto Martinelli, president of the National Association of Millers, this formula does not add up. The volumes that millers can import annually are limited and they would not cover even a small part of the additional costs. (Editor's Comment: Panamanians eat a lot of rice. This year's crop is smaller than usual, and is not large enough to cover annual consumption, so the Ministry of Agriculture has authorized millers to import and process rice from other sources. Domestic growers are trying to get the government to approve a $.05 cent per pound increase in the price of rice to offset additional production costs caused by higher fuel prices.)

"We cannot absorb any additional costs" said Martinelli. El ministro de Desarrollo Agropecuario, Guillermo Salazar, ha sido enfático con los productores y molineros, no aceptará un aumento en el precio del arroz para los consumidores, por eso del impacto del petróleo sobre los costos de producción.

Los productores amenazan con subir en un dólar el precio del quintal de arroz en cáscara, un aumento que el Gobierno propone absorba la industria molinera, compensándolo con las ganancias que obtienen con la importación del grano. La medida, aún bajo consulta, evitaría pasar el incremento de los precios del arroz a los consumidores.

Pero para Alberto Martinelli, presidente de la Asociación Nacional de Molineros, esta fórmula no tiene sustento.

Los volúmenes que pueden importar anualmente los molineros son limitados y no cubrirían ni la mínima parte de lo que sería un ‘subsidio’. "No podemos asumir un aumento más en los costos", dijo Martinelli.
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