Trade dept. eyeing SRP on laptops with 'basic features'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 4) — The Trade Department may impose price caps on laptops and gear for online learning, but will likely cover only entry-level gadgets.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the agency is wrapping up its study on calls to impose price ceiling on gadgets which have been in demand as students and teachers shift to remote learning.

"We continue to study whether it will make sense for us to put an SRP even on laptops or gadgets with basic features — doon lang. Kasi when you add features... dapat free market din 'yan [prices should depend on the free market]," Lopez told CNN Philippines' The Exchange.

President Rodrigo Duterte said face-to-face classes can only resume once a COVID-19 vaccine is invented, leaving schools to turn to digital and out-of-classroom learning models.

Lopez said there's not much urgency to set a ceiling on the price of such gadgets unlike limited food supplies, as there are more than enough manufacturers and variants to choose from.

"Computers have different specifications... Merong really low price at merong of course pricey, the ones that are branded, the ones that are with high specs," the Cabinet official said.

"There’s also a lot of competition taking place. So as long as may competition, you can be assured that you will be able to find the laptop or the gadget that will be suited for you."

The agency has been in talks with the Department of Education and the Department of Information and Communications Technology to find out the basic requirement for devices used for distance learning. Currently, some gadget stores provide discounts for students buying new equipment for educational use.