Rice tariff yield tops P10B goal

    103

    The Rice Tarrification Law has netted a tariff revenue of P11.4 billion, which is already beyond the P10 billion earmarked per year for the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), the Department of Finance (DOF) said.

    Carlos Dominguez, DOF secretary, said in his speech at the 11th World Rice Conference in Makati City yesterday the amount was generated under the law’s implementation from March 5 to October 31.

    “This means we have gone beyond the minimum earmark of P10 billion and have ample means to do even more to make our agricultural production more efficient,” Dominguez said.

    The Rice Tarrification Law or Republic Act (RA) No. 11203 has removed the quantitative restrictions (QRs) on rice trading and imposed a minimum 35 percent tariff on imports of the grain.

    Under this law, tariff collections from rice imports will go to the RCEF, which will get P10 billion yearly and is being used to distribute modern farm equipment and high-quality seeds, expand credit assistance and increase extension services for farmers.

    “Tariff revenues in excess of P10 billion will be earmarked for financial assistance, titling of agricultural lands, expanded crop insurance programs, and crop diversification initiatives,” Dominguez said.Dominguez said in slashing market prices by about P8 per kilo since the lifting of the QRs on rice imports last March, RA 11203 has significantly reduced inflation which, in turn, has boosted household spending that helped drive gross domestic product growth to 6.2 percent in the July to September period.

    Short-term “transition challenges,” such as the drop in palay farmgate prices in several areas, are being decisively addressed by the Duterte administration through several measures, Dominguez said.

    Among them is the implementation by the Department of Agriculture (DA) of the Survival and Recovery or SURE-aid program, which offers affected farmers a P15,000 interest-free loan each, payable over eight years.

    The DA is also working on the procurement of palay above production costs by local government units (LGUs), along with the provision of bank loan programs to enable LGUs to buy this season’s harvest from growers in their respective localities, Dominguez said.

    He added the Executive Department is closely engaging with Congress to ensure the approval of the unconditional cash transfer program for affected farmers, and the distribution of rice in lieu of giving cash as rice subsidy to beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

    Ernesto Pernia, socioeconomic planning secretary, in a speech read by Rosemarie Edillon, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) undersecretary, during the same event said for nearly two decades, Filipinos have been paying more than twice for a kilo of rice compared to their Asean neighbors such as the Thais and Vietnamese.

    He said with the law in place, 101 million Filipinos are enjoying more affordable rice.

    “The price of regular milled rice has dropped by P8.9 per kg as of the second week of

    October 2019. Consequently, we have seen a continuing deceleration in food inflation,” Pernia said.

    On the other hand, he said farmgate prices of palay have gone down faster than the decline in retail prices.

    “The influx of imported rice was definitely a factor in this, but so is the lack of access to efficient and affordable drying facilities,” Pernia said.