The Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Department of Commerce says it is taking a hands-off approach in the continued increase in the local price of rice.
Rice is a staple in the Commonwealth, consumed by about 90 percent of the population.
The Economic Development Division director, John Blanco, says the department is not in a position to dictate price controls to the markets on the price of rice.
He says the only time a government agency can step in and regulate the price of rice, or any other commodity, is if there is clearly evidence of price gouging.
He says the CNMI, like other rice-importing countries in the world, has no choice but to absorb the rise in the price of the commodity that is dictated by international market forces.