CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- Amid the skepticism aired by some of her fellow lawmakers, re-electionist Senator Cynthia Villar said the newly-passed Rice Tariffication Law will serve as a protection to the local farmers.
The measure, which was certified into law by President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday, is expected to lower the price of rice by easing import restrictions, which in turn would increase the supply in the country.
In her recent visit in the province, Villar said the measure is the government’s response to the expiration of the country’s quantitative restrictions on importation of rice to avoid being penalized by the World Trade Organization.
“With the expiration of the quantitative restriction on rice importation, this is a very important piece of legislation that will protect our farmers and help them improve their profitability and competitiveness," Villar said.
The measure will require 35 percent tariff for rice from members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and 50 percent for imports from non-Asean countries.
Villar said that the revenue from the tariff will proceed to the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) where a chunk of budget for the support programs for local rice farmers will be taken from.
She also disclosed that the government will also allocate some P10-billion every year starting 2019 for the RCEF on top of the tariff income to ensure sustainability of the of the programs for local rice farmers.
“P5-billion of the funds will be used to improve the mechanization in farming. Our local rice farmers will be given machines that will help lessen the cost of palay production by up to 25%. They will also be taught how to seed development to help increase their harvest from four metric tons to six metric tons per hectare,” she said.