Gov’t may raise rice import tariffs to protect farmers – Marcos
MANILA, Philippines — “If South Korea and Japan have imposed import tariffs of 500% to 800% to protect their local farmers, why can’t we?”
Sen. Imee Marcos asked this question Monday as she offered possible solutions to the possibility of a drop in the buying price of palay due to cheap imports.
Marcos said that the government could provide financial support for local farmers by activating Section 7 of the Rice Tariffication Law, which gives the President the ability to increase tariffs on rice imports from member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and even non-Asian countries.
Marcos called for the government to bring back the 17-peso support price of palay, citing that farm gate price of palay has plunged to P7 per kilo, lower than the average production cost of P12.
According to her, farmers have lost as much as 41.6% of their investment in the month of August.
Other possible solutions
Marcos debunked the idea that the situation of farmers had become “hopeless” and that “little can be done” to address the problems.
Other possible solutions that Marcos listed include the use of the Department of Agriculture’s Quick Response Fund to buy palay from farmers in addressing the government’s “currently inadequate” rice buffer stock, which will last for only 30 days.
Marcos said Recipients of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4P’s) can also receive rice subsidies instead of cash, with these rice supplies bought from local farmers.
Stricter phytosanitary requirements could also be imposed to slow down the entry of rice imports, as well as distribute rice import supplies in various markets nationwide.
The government could also consider adding rice in a “special products list” to allow for a more flexible trade set-up, especially when livelihood security is at risk, the senator added.
“We can save our rice farmers if we could just be thorough in our tasks, work hard, and get things done ASAP,” Marcos said.
The National Food Authority (NFA) was earlier asked to hasten the sale of more than four million bags of imported rice stocked in its warehouses with the proceeds to be used to purchase palay from local farmers.
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