NEDA pushes for tariff to solve rice supply woes

THE National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) raised the need to immediately pass the rice tariffication bill in Congress, which it sees as a significant step in reforming the agricultural sector.

The passage of the bill, which amends Republic Act 8178 or the Agricultural Tariffication Act of 1996, will pave the way for the replacement of the quantitative restrictions (QR) on rice imports with tariffs.

“This will remove unnecessary government intervention in the rice market, as envisioned by President Rodrigo Duterte during the meeting with rice traders, officials of the National Food Authority (NFA) and members of the NFA Council,” NEDA said in a statement.

Members of the NFA Council, which include the NEDA, also took note of President Duterte’s instruction to expedite the processing of the necessary papers and clearances.

The Council is responsible for setting the terms of reference, including the volume to be imported for the year, the timing of import arrivals and the mode of importation. The permit to import by a specific trader or importer is processed by the NFA.

“The Council considers the projected domestic production vis-à-vis domestic demand within the context of the global trading scenario, domestic inflation, fiscal position and its impact on the income of farmers,” said NEDA Officer-in-Charge Rosemarie Edillon.

“The role of the Council can be taken on by the full Cabinet, supported by complete staff work from the respective agencies. Whatever the governing body, NEDA stands ready to provide the technical inputs needed,” Edillon said.

If the quantitative restriction is replaced by predictable tariffs, NEDA expects that the private sector can respond more effectively to market signals and government can focus on regulating to ensure food safety and fair market competition.

“The revenues from the tariff collection can be plowed back to improve the competitiveness of the sector and improve farmers’ incomes,” Edillon added. (PR)