A portion of rice tariff revenues to be used on local farmers’ welfare — DA
Senate Bill No. 1998 or the Rice Tarrification Bill has passed the 3rd and final reading. If enacted into law, it will allow private sectors to import more rice.
A 35 percent tariff will be imposed on imported varieties coming from ASEAN member countries and 50 percent or higher for rice imported from countries outside ASEAN.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that President Rodrigo Duterte wants to expedite the passage of the Rice Tariffication Bill to prevent shortage of rice supply and its consequent increase in prices.
The bill is also seen to help eradicate corruption and cartels from the country’s rice industry.
On the other hand, a group of farmers oppose the bill’s enactment as they believe it will flood the country with low-priced imported rice and put the local farmers at a disadvantage.
“Lalong tatamaan yung mga magsasakang Pilipino kasi pag-dagsa ng murang bigas dito. Dahil ang atin ay napakataas ng gastusin sa produksyon, paano tayo makikipag-compete?” Tadeo said.
Jimmy Tadeo of Paragos Pilipinas,blames rice shortage on land conversion and the high cost of farming rice.
On the other hand, Rosendo So of Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) supports the passage of the bill. What needs to be done, he said, is to ensure that part of the revenues from the tariff collection should go to local farmers.
“Kasi kung hindi natin i-tariffy yung rice, ma-question tayo ng World Trade Organization (WTO). Ang mangyayari, may mag-iimport na zero tariff,” So said.
However, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol argued that the proposed measure is actually beneficial to local farmers because it will provide them with needed support to lower cost of production while increasing their yield.
The proposed bill states that the government will allocate P10 billion subsidy for local rice farmers.
“Because now we could support our farmers with good seeds, with maybe subsidized fertilizers that would improve their productivity. And when their productivity is improved, they don’t have to cry for a higher price for their ‘palay’ anymore,” Piñol said. — Rey Pelayo
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