PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has rejected the proposal to temporarily implement a reduction on rice tariff rate to address the soaring price of the Filipino families’ staple food in the market.
Marcos made the remark as the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) presented updates on the proposed rice tariff reduction with inputs from the Department of Finance (DOF), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). The tariff reduction aims to help lower local rice prices in the market, which may subsequently result in the lifting of the mandatory price cap on rice.
The country's tariff rate for imported rice, based on a data from the Department of Finance, is at 35 percent.
Neda Secretary Arsenio Balisacan and Agriculture officials, including Undersecretaries Leocadio Sebastian and Mercedita Sombilla, agreed that lowering the tariff rates will not work because of the downtrend of rice prices in the world market.
“We decided with the agriculture and economic managers that … It was not the right time to lower the tariff rates because the projection of world rice prices is that it will go down. So, this is not the right time to lower tariffs. Tariffs are generally lowered when the price is going up,” said Marcos.
Several farmer groups raised concern over the implementation of rice tariff reduction as it will benefit importers more and that it will “further depress” palay prices and discourage farmers from expanding their future production.
Marcos said they are thoroughly studying the possibility of lifting the Executive Order 39, which took effect on September 5, mandating the price ceiling on regular-milled rice at P41 per kilogram while the mandated price cap on well-milled rice is at P45 per kilogram.
The President earlier blamed the surge of rice price to smuggling and hoarding.
Amid the implementation of mandatory price cap, Marcos has ordered the Department of Social Welfare and Development to provide P15,000 cash assistance to small rice retailers, as well as the distribution of sacks of rice to beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) to ensure sufficient food supply for them. (SunStar Philippines)