Gov’t to raise tariff on imported rice
The Department of Agriculture (DA) is looking at raising tariffs on imported rice as early as mid-October to address an oversupply of the staple grain due to excessive importation.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar yesterday told reporters this would be done through the implementation of a general safeguard duty on imported goods, which was provided for in the rice tariffication law.
“We believe we have imported enough (rice) and additional imports should be looked at differently,” Dar said. “We have too much supply as we have already imported 2.4 million tons since March.”
The agriculture chief added that, considering that the Philippines was 93-percent self-sufficient in rice production, the country needed to import only 7 percent of its supply needs.
“This means that we need to import only 1.5 million to 2 million tons,” Dar said.
He said the DA was still determining how much to increase rice tariffs, but that this would be decided in early October.
“Doubling the rice tariff (to 70 percent as suggested by some economists) still is just a scenario,” Dar said. “There may be a slight delay, but the safeguard duty will be implemented on a probational basis for 200 days as the law allows, starting mid or late October.”
In a statement, the DA said the imposition of a safeguard duty on rice imports was one of the measures that the DA was banking on to stabilize the supply and price of rice.
The measure is in line with Republic Act 8752 (Anti-Dumping Act of 1999) wherein the government can impose antidumping duties on imports of any product, including rice and other basic food items, that are priced way below the current fair market value.
Another option is to impose more stringent sanitary and pythosanitary and inspection measures as requirements for rice importation.
“We will protect our small farmers by not allowing additional imports especially (during) this main harvest season,” Dar said. “We want them to benefit from the respectable farm-gate prices of palay set by the government through the National Food Authority (NFA).”
According to the NFA, it has never stopped buying palay from farmers even if it still has four million bags of imported rice in its warehouses as of August.
“The NFA’s procurement operations is a year-round activity. Our field personnel are always ready to receive palay deliveries from farmers through our more than 300 buying stations strategically located across the country,” NFA Administrator Judy Carol Dansal said.
For this year, as of Aug. 22, the NFA has bought 5.9 million bags of palay, which were 11 percent more than its target of 5.3 million bags for that period.
“(As early as August), NFA is already preparing for aggressive palay-buying starting October, although we continue to entertain farmers selling their stocks from sporadic harvests in between the summer and main cropping seasons,” Dansal said.
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