Dominguez: No to review of rice tariff law
The head of the Duterte administration’s economic team on Thursday dismissed calls for a review of the rice tariffication law for its alleged failure to drastically bring down prices of the Filipino staple food.
“No” was Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III’s reply when asked about outgoing Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol’s social media post relaying such request from farmers and cooperatives.
“We should let the rice liberalization law, which is three decades late, do its work and give the economy time to adjust for the further easing of rice prices for more than 100 million Filipinos. We must also implement the rice fund efficiently and effectively for our two to three million rice farmers,” Dominguez said.
Citing a report from Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy Governor Francisco G. Dakila Jr., he said prices of well-milled rice already declined to P42.92 a kilo as of June from P45.09 in January and P49.06 in September last year.
As for regular milled rice, prices dropped to P38.56 a kilo in June from P41.41 in January and P45.75 in September 2018, the report showed.
During the 2019 Pre-State of the Nation Address (Sona) Economic and Infrastructure Forum held earlier, Dominguez described Republic Act No. 11203, or the Rice Liberalization Act, that instituted rice tariffication as “among the monumental legislative achievements of this administration.”
“The liberalization of rice trading was finally achieved after more than thirty years of failed attempts under various administrations. This law has made quality rice more affordable and accessible to Filipino consumers, thereby bringing down inflation. In fact, rice retail prices are now cheaper by P5-10 a kilo compared to last year,” Dominguez said.
“Unlike in the past when quantitative restrictions were abused by a select few, the new law ensures that farmers benefit directly from import tariffs by providing at least P10 billion each year for mechanization, high-quality seeds, access to credit, and training,” he said.
The collection of tariffs on all rice imports under the liberalized trade scheme generated P5.9 billion in additional revenue for the government to date since it was implemented in March, data from the Department of Finance showed.
Under RA 11203, the following tariff rates apply: 35 percent if rice was 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.—BEN O. DE VERA
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