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July 2024

Traders commit to lower rice prices starting July

Delon Porcalla 

Workers stack sacks of rice in a warehouse in San Ildefonso, Bulacan in this June 7 file photo.

MANILA, Philippines — Rice retailers have committed to selling rice at lower prices, or P45 per kilo, starting in July.

At a meeting yesterday with Speaker Martin Romualdez, rice traders predicted rice prices in July and August: well-milled rice, 25 percent broken, at P45 to P46 per kilo, and premium rice, five percent broken, at P47 to P48 per kilo.

“We are prepared to help the government soften the impact of inflation and help the people feel the immediate effect of lowering the tariff for rice,” said Grain Retailers Confederation of the Philippines spokesman Orly Manuntag.

“Let’s help each other so that we can ensure the reduction of rice tariffs and thus result in the reduction in the price of rice,” said Grecon lead convenor Rowena Sadicon.

The Philippine Rice Industry Stakeholders Movement, led by Manuntag and Sadicon, met with Romualdez to discuss ways to lower rice retail prices.

President Marcos issued Executive Order 62 on June 20, formalizing reduced tariffs to 15 percent from 35 percent until 2028. Economic managers believe it could bring down rice prices to P29 per kilo.

“Your commitment to making affordable rice accessible to our people is greatly appreciated,” Romualdez said after the meeting at the Manila Golf Club in Makati City.

He reiterated that the tariff cuts and the government’s direct sale of imported rice through Kadiwa centers should substantially lower the retail price of rice.

Romualdez earlier said the effects of the tariff cuts would be felt as soon as possible, ideally before the third State of the Nation Address on July 22.

Also present at the meeting were National Food Authority (NFA) officer-in-charge administrator Larry Lacson, House committee on appropriations chairman Rep. Zaldy Co, House committee on agriculture and food chairman Rep. Mark Enverga and House Deputy Majority Leader Erwin Tulfo.

Farmgate prices

EO 62 could result in depressed farmgate prices of palay, Agriculture Assistant Secretary and spokesman Arnel de Mesa told radio dzBB yesterday.

“It (tariff cuts) will really have an effect. As of now, the farmgate (price of palay) is high. If the retail price of imported rice will go down, that (drop in farmgate price) will be the effect and will have an impact on the level of our local farmers,” De Mesa said.

Before EO 62 takes effect on July 6, a temporary restraining order would be filed before the Supreme Court by farmers’ groups led by the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura and the Federation of Free Farmers.

At least 500,000 farmers would be displaced amid the flooding of imported rice in the country, Sinag chairman Rosendo So earlier warned.

The Philippines is importing at least 28 percent of its rice supply, he noted.

Unless the high court issues a TRO, the Department of Agriculture will abide by EO 62, De Mesa said.

The NFA will continue procuring palay from farmers at higher farmgate prices, between P23 and P30, but De Mesa admitted it would not be enough to help affected farmers.

Based on the Philippine Statistics Authority’s initial estimate, De Mesa said the retail price of imported rice will go down by P6 to P7 per kilo following EO 62’s implementation.

Former agriculture secretary Leonardo Montemayor has projected at least P80 billion in losses with the reduced tariff on imported rice.

Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. yesterday said EO 62 is not “anti-farmer” since the government is “committed to filling any funding gap” in the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund.

Under the Rice Tariffication Law, revenues collected from rice tariffs should pay for RCEF’s yearly P10-billion requirement, which would bankroll programs raising the competitiveness and output of palay farmers.

Meanwhile, graft charges will be filed before the ombudsman against National Economic and Development Authority Secretary Arsenio Balisacan and Tariff Commission officials, said Sinag legal counsel Virgie Suarez. — Bella Cariaso QR Code

Published Date: June 24, 2024

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