A resolution has been filed at the Senate urging the appropriate committee to conduct an investigation, in aid of legislation, how the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) is being utilized to help the agricultural sector.
Sen. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao in his resolution said the Department of Finance (DOF), Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Department of Agriculture must provide the government an update on how the RCEF is being implemented more than one year after President Duterte signed into law Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law to ensure food security and make the agriculture sector viable, efficient and globally competitive.
Pacquiao said the DOF and the BOC must account for the volume of rice imports since quantitative restrictions on rice imports, the amounts of tariffs collected and amount allocated to RCEF.
“The Department of Agriculture which is primarily tasked to manage the RCEF must provide a complete and detailed report on the disbursement and the utilization of the fund which was supposed to cushion the impact of rice import liberalization to the Filipino farmers,” Pacquiao added.
RA 11203 provided the framework for the establishment of the RCEF with a P10-billion annual fund to be allocated to rice farm machinery and equipment (50 percent), rice seed development, propagation, and promotion (30 percent); expanded rice assistance (10 percent); and credit program for rice extension services (10 percent).
Before the implementation of RA 11203, Pacquiao said the farm gate price of palay averaged at P21.39 per kilo but when imported rice started flooding the market, it dropped to P17.88 per kilo. He addedin Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Sorsogon, Tarlac and Laguna said the farm gate price is at P7 to P10 per kilo. (R. Africa)