Tariff on rice to raise up to P28B a year


Removing the import quota and slapping tariff on rice would generate up to P28 billion in yearly revenue that the government can use to support farmers, state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority said.

In a recent presentation, Neda Assistant Secretary Carlos Abad Santos said that if a 35-percent tariff would be imposed on rice imports, the government could collect between P7 billion and P28 billion a year, which could fund programs and projects for affected local farmers.

The imposition of tariff will also benefit consumers as retail prices of rice would fall by P4-7 a kilo, Abad Santos added.

The Neda official said there was a “need to act quickly to stabilize rice supply.”

“Rice inflation posted double-digit growth of over 11 percent in 2014 due to restriction in imports, but decreased in 2015-2016 due to sufficient supply in the market. In the first four months of 2018, rice inflation has started to pick up. The government should be vigilant in ensuring adequate supply,” he said.

In the Philippines’ statement during the recent 74th session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, Neda Undersecretary Rosemarie G. Edillon said that “the approval of the legislation to remove import quotas on rice to reduce rice prices is another critical propoor measure that needs to be put in place in the immediate term given that 20 percent of the total consumption of the poor represents rice.”

Last week, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said that amid a high inflation environment, “the more enduring solutions will require structural reforms,” especially in terms of food prices.

“We continue to pressure Congress to amend Republic Act No. 8178 or the Agricultural Tariffication Act. The lifting of quantitative restrictions or QRs on rice should be pursued in earnest, as it will reduce the retail price of rice. This will increase the purchasing power of low-income households, aside from bringing down inflation,” said Pernia, who also heads Neda.

Pernia earlier noted that the price of palay rose by 10 percent year-on-year so far this year.

“We also need to restructure the National Food Authority to rid it of its import monopoly and trading functions, so that it can focus on buffer stocking to meet emergencies. This reform is necessary for NFA to focus on its function of maintaining a national buffer stock for food security, and refrain from rice trading to avoid distorting the market,” according to Pernia.

“Moreover, we also need to address rising prices of fresh fish, meat, and vegetables. As demand continues to rise with a growing population and expanding economy, reducing food inflation is necessary to increase people’s purchasing power,” Pernia added.


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