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Eyed tariff cut aims to lower rice prices to below P50: Speaker

Different types of rice are sold at the Agora Market in San Juan City on May 7, 2024. Maria Tan, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The proposal to reduce rice tariffs seeks to bring down rice retail prices to below P50 per kilo, amid high prices perceived to be driven by “unscrupulous” traders, the impact of El Niño, and high global costs, according to House Speaker Martin Romualdez.

Despite the planned tariff reduction, Romualdez said farmers will continue to receive support from the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), funded by taxes collected under Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law.

As of April, DOF data indicate that rice tariff collections have reached P16-billion – enough to cover the P10-billion minimum requirement to assist farmers under RCEF, according to the House Speaker.

“Our goal is to lower food prices while protecting local farmers and producers. We hope to do this by increasing local procurement and adjusting import tariffs,” Romualdez said in a statement.

He also called for stricter price controls in the retail market to prevent price manipulation and protect consumers.

“DA should talk to traders to avoid hoarding and price manipulation,” Romualdez stressed.

For AGRI Party List Representative Wilbert Lee, reducing rice tariffs is a “temporary” or “short-term” solution to price issues, adding that prolonging it would pose risks to the local agriculture sector.

“Hindi ito ang long-term solution. Isa pa, pag binabaan mo ‘yung taripa rito, maaaring dumagsa ‘yung ibang imported products at pwede sumabay dito ‘yung smuggled agri products. Hindi makakasabay dito yung ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda. Papatayin nito ang kanilang kabuhayan,” Lee said in an interview with the media on Thursday.

(This is not a long term solution. If you reduce tariffs, imports could surge and along with them smuggled agri products. Our farmers and fishers will not be able to keep up. This will kill their livelihood.)

He proposed that the government increase the budget for post-harvest facilities, simplify the requirements for availing of farm mechanization, and provide access to more affordable seeds and pesticides.

https://news.abs-cbn.com/business/2024/5/30/eyed-tariff-cut-aims-to-lower-rice-prices-to-below-p50-speaker-1638 QR Code

Published Date: May 30, 2024

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