BOC: PH rice imports unfazed by global shortage
MANILA -Inbound shipments of rice remain unaffected by a global shortage of the commodity, allowing a steady collection of rice tariffs that would be used to fund projects meant to boost local production of the staple grain, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) said.
“We’re seeing the same volume,” Customs Assistant Commissioner Vincent Philip Maronilla told reporters on the sideline of a tax symposium hosted by SGV & Co. last week.
“There is a supply. By our records, importations are steady. So we find no concrete reason to conclude that, let’s say, other factors globally are affecting supplies here in the country,” he added.
Government data showed Customs collected P16.81 billion from rice tariffs in the January-August, up 6 percent year-on-year. This, despite eight-month import volume falling 15 percent compared with a year ago to 2.257 million metric tons (MT) as prices of the staple rose.
The amount collected has already exceeded the P10 billion mandated to be allocated to the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) under the Rice Tariffication Law for projects targeted at improving local rice production.
The government forecasts rice imports to hit 3.1 million this year which, if realized, will be lower than the 3.8 million MT that arrived in 2022. From January to October, the country has imported 2.8 million MT of rice to bridge supply gaps at home.
But local prices of the main staple have soared to a 14-year high in September despite the imports and a price cap placed on the commodity for roughly a month, stoking headline inflation to a four-month of 6.1 percent during that month.
Zooming out, prices of rice have been volatile in Asia in recent months due to extreme weather conditions, with restrictions in India, a major global rice exporter, seen pushing up prices worldwide. Last year, the Philippines received 83 percent of its total rice imports from Vietnam.
Maronilla said Customs was now looking into issues of rice hoarding and smuggling to improve domestic supply. INQ