Rice tariff starts March 3
Imported rice will be slapped with tariff beginning March 3 as the government removed the import quota under Republic Act (RA) No. 11203, or the Rice Tariffication Act, signed by President Duterte last week.
Finance Assistant Secretary Antonio Joselito G. Lambino II said the following tariff rates would apply under RA 11203: 35 percent if rice is imported from Asean; 40 percent if within the minimum access volume (MAV) of 350,000 metric tons from countries outside Asean, and 180 percent if above the MAV and coming from a non-Asean country.
During a meeting of the National Food Authority (NFA) Council led by Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III on Monday, the interagency body also ordered the grains agency to submit a restructuring plan within 30 days as the law removed its commercial function and instead retained only its regulatory powers.
In a statement, the Department of Finance said Dominguez presided over the meeting as Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, who chairs the NFA Council, was “unavailable.”
The meeting tackled the crafting of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of RA 11203, while also shooting down the earlier proposal of the NFA to submit a restructuring plan within a longer period of 180 days.
“Our objective in liberalizing rice imports is to bring down the cost of the staple. Our price is 50-percent higher than the others, including Singapore, which does not produce rice. Will it take us 180 days to effect a reduction in the cost of living of our the people?” Dominguez said.
The DOF also quoted Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez as saying that rice trade must shift to tariffication “as soon as possible.”
“The reorganization of NFA can be done separately from the move to shift from quantitative restrictions to tariffs,” Lopez said.
Dominguez also asked the National Economic and Development Authority “to determine what funds could be freed up as a result of the restructuring of the NFA to ensure that farmers receive the support they need while the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund mandated under the Rice Tariffication Law is still in the process of being set up.”
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