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Despite lower imports, rice tariffs up to P10.7B as of mid-July

By: - Reporter / @bendeveraINQ
/ 03:29 PM July 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The year-to-date tariffs collected from imported rice already breached P10 billion as of mid-July, ensuring next year’s fund for farm modernization being set aside under the Rice Tariffication Law.

In a statement Friday, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said collections from the import duties slapped on rice from Jan. 1 to July 17 amounted to P10.7 billion.

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The Rice Tariffication Law or Republic Act (RA) No. 11203 mandated earmarking P10 billion yearly for the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) aimed at modernizing the rice sector, while excess amounts will be allocated to farmers whose livelihood were badly hit by the import surge due to liberalized trade.

The BOC said year-to-date collection exceeded by 8 percent the P9.9-billion take a year ago even as rice import volume slid 24.6 percent year-on-year to 1.65 million metric tons (MT).

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BOC Assistant Commissioner Vincent Philip C. Maronilla explained that the lower rice importation to date was on the back of “initial hesitation of some countries that export rice to withhold the volume exported due to possible [supply] effects of COVID-19 in their respective domestic markets.”

Despite smaller import volume, rice tariff collections rose due to “the BOC’s continuous effort to protect government revenue and ensure the correct valuation of goods,” it said.

“The BOC consistently conducts close monitoring of the declared value on rice importations in view of its strict adherence to global published prices for rice, which serves as a guide when the veracity of the declared values is under dispute,” it added.

Since last year, RA 11203 slapped the following levy on imported rice: 35 percent, if from Asean; 40 percent, if within the minimum access volume (MAV) of 350,000 MT and from countries outside Asean; and 180 percent, if above the MAV and coming from a non-Asean country.

In 2019, rice tariffication raised P12.3 billion in additional revenues, as the private sector imported 2.03 million MT of the Filipino staple food.

To date, rice retail prices dropped by about P10 per kilo compared to their peak in 2018, after RA 11203 removed the import quota which had protected the domestic industry while stripping off the state-run National Food Authority (NFA) its importation and regulatory functions.

In June, rice recorded its 14th straight month of deflation or year-on-year drop in prices, although the month’s 1.9 percent was the slowest so far due to base effects from last year’s massive price decline. [ac]

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