PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law a measure lifting restrictions on rice importation, Malacañang said on Friday, February 15.
This was confirmed by Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo in a text message to Palace reporters.
The Palace has yet to release a copy of the newly-signed law.
Duterte certified the rice tariffication bill as urgent in October 2018 in a bid "to address the urgent need to improve availability of rice in the country, to prevent artificial rice shortage, reduce the prices of rice in the market, and curtail the prevalence of corruption and cartel domination in the rice industry."
A month after Duterte certified the measure as urgent, a report on the bill was ratified by the bicameral conference committee.
Under the rice tariffication bill, quantitative restrictions on rice importation are lifted and private traders are allowed to import the commodity from countries of their choice
The bill imposes a 25-percent duty on rice imports from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) member-states and a 50-percent rate on imports from non-members of the regional bloc.
The measure would also create the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund or a special rice buffer fund, with an initial P10-billion annual fund, to ensure rice production competitiveness.
The country's economic team has been pushing for rice tariffication, saying this should bring down the prices of the country's staple and weaken inflation. (SunStar Philippines)