DoF: Gov’t to take advantage of lower rice prices in the international market

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Manila (October 9)-  The Rice Tariffication Bill will allow the government to take advantage of the lower prices in the international market, Finance Undersecretary Tony Lambino yesterday said.  

“We have really mismanaged our rice supply and rice policies.  What we need now is to invest more and improve the productivity of the agriculture sector,” he emphasized.

Lambino said food inflation remains high compared to non-food products which are going down.  He pointed out that the soaring oil prices in the world market, not the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion or TRAIN was driving the inflation.

The TRAIN, raised duties on fuel, sugar-sweetened drinks, and cars, added 0.4 percent to August inflation, which stood at 6.4 percent, he added.    Lambino maintained that 80% of the fuel price increases are not from the excise tax, but from the import price of oil.

Under the Rice Tariffication Bill (HB 7735), the National Food Authority (NFA) would have the sole authority to undertake direct rice importation to ensure food security and maintain the national buffer stocks.  It would also create a Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund, which would consist of duties collected from rice imports. The fund will be broken down as follows:

  • 20% for the establishment of a rice endowment fund
  • 20% for credit subsidy or grants to modernize and increase production of rice farms
  • 20% for rice crop finance
  • 20% for postharvest facilities, logistics, storage, transportation facilities, and infrastructure projects
  • 10% for rice scholarships and vocational education
  • 10% for research and development

The amendment of the two-decade-old Agricultural Tariffication Act of 1996 will pave the way for the lifting of quantitative restrictions (QR) that have allowed Philippine authorities to limit the volume of rice imports every year.- ezc/NewsLine

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