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P20 a kilo rice possible through subsidy – Salceda

Farmers dry their rice crops in the middle of the sun at Brgy. Paligue in Candaba, Pampanga on April 1, 2023.

MANILA, Philippines — Bringing the price of rice down to P20 per kilo, as promised by President Marcos during the campaign, is “not impossible,” according to Albay Rep. Joey Salceda.

Salceda expressed this sentiment yesterday during a briefing of the House committee on agriculture on the status of the “country’s sufficiency in rice, corn, livestock, poultry, vegetables and other key commodities.”

The lawmaker told the Department of Agriculture (DA) that during the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, bringing down the prics of rice was “very simple as the National Food Authority (NFA) was subsidizing rice by buying the staple at higher prices and then selling them at lower prices.

“If Bongbong (Marcos) really wanted P20 per kilo, it is easy… It’s just that NFA had incurred debts amounting to P15 billion then. But at least P20 was achieved, and it was even P18,” he said in Filipino.

But Deputy Speaker and Isabela Rep. Antonio Albano reminded Salceda that NFA “no longer has the power to do so.”

To this, Salceda replied that a “subsidy fund” could be set up for rice instead.

“You can set up a subsidy fund for it. If there’s no NFA then somebody can do it if you want P20. It’s not impossible, that’s what I am saying. (Former) president Gloria was into importation at P30 and then sell it P18,” he added.

Meanwhile, rice watchdog group Bantay Bigas dared Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. to go to the different palay farms in the country and hear the sentiments of farmers amid the continued spike in retail prices of rice, as the lowest cost is now at P53 per kilo.

In an interview with The STAR yesterday, Bantay Bigas spokesperson Cathy Estavillo said based on their  monitoring, the retail price of well-milled rice ranged between P53 and P56 per kilo.

She added that Laurel has been meeting with the rice traders and importers but not with the peasants.

According to Estavillo, consumers can no longer afford the high price of rice.

“The P53 to P56 (per kilo) is too costly for ordinary people,” she noted.

Estavillo reiterated the need to scrap Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law.

She said that the P27 and P32 NFA rice should be returned, adding the government should provide P15,000 subsidy to the farmers.

Based on monitoring of the DA in Metro Manila markets, the retail price of local regular rice was as high as P53 per kilo; local well-milled rice, P55 per kilo; local premium rice, P62 per kilo and local special rice, P66 per kilo.

On the other hand, the retail price of imported premium rice was P60 per kilo and imported special rice, P65. – Bella Cariaso

https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2023/11/23/2313469/p20-kilo-rice-possible-through-subsidy-salceda QR Code

Published Date: November 23, 2023

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