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Amendments to House OK’s Rice Tariff Bill in Second Reading



Amendments to House OK's Rice Tariff Bill in Second Reading

By means of Kenneth Christiane L. Basilio

The House of Representatives approved a bill in second reading on Tuesday that aims to make this possible the National Food Authority (NFA) to sell rice at subsidized prices during emergencies, including shortages.

Philippine congressmen agreed by voice vote to expand the agency’s regulatory functions over the rice industry through House Bill No. 10381, amid rising prices of the basic commodity.

The bill seeks to amend the Rice Tariff Act (RTL), which gave private traders full control over rice imports in 2019.

The measure also extends the validity of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) for another six years and increases its budget from P10 billion to P15 billion, members of Congress said during plenary debates.

“The swift action of the House of Representatives on the amendments to the Rice Tariff Act comes amid the current rice price crisis,” Albay Rep. Jose Maria Clemente S. Salceda told reporters. Business in a Viber message. “It has exposed the shortcomings of the global rice trade and why domestic support remains crucial.”

The House of Representatives expedites its deliberations on the Rice Bill to address the expensive cost of rice in the markets by allowing the NFA to restore its price stabilization and supply regulation functions.

According to the latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, retail prices of staple grain range between P50 and P65 per kilo.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez said the Rice Tari has been amendedffThe law would reduce rice prices to less than P30 per kilo.

“By amending the RTL, we want to bring about tangible reductions in rice prices,” Romualdez told a state conference.ment. “Reducing rice prices to less than P30 is a crucial step to ensure food security and economic stability.”

According to the bill, the NFA would be allowed to intervene in the market under the leadership of the National Price Coordinating Council – made up of state economic managers. — during food security emergencies caused by rice shortages and continued increases in the price of staple grain.

“A strong NFA could really play a role in ensuring food and especially rice security,” said Jose Enrique A. Africa, Executive Director of the IBON Foundation. Business in a Viber message before the bill was passed.

He said tackling rice inflation requires the government to look beyond restoring the regulatory functions of the NFA.

In April, rice inflation rose 23.9% but declined compared to 24.4% a month earlier, when world rice prices fell.

Mr Africa said the Philippines should reduce its dependence on imported rice given the weakness of the peso.

“The import content of palay is over 30%, and a large part of riceFCommunication is through this channel,” Mr Africa said. “Reducing the import content of food and the vulnerability of food prices to currency movements goes well beyond the NFA.”

Developing the industrial capacity of the agricultural sector is necessary to strengthen domestic rice production, he added.

Changes in the Rice TariffThe bill would also change the way RCEF is allocated. About 53.5% of the fund would go to agricultural mechanization projects, up from the current 50%. This increase would help modernize the provincetry’s rice sector, according to supporters of the measure.

The allocation for the multiplication and distribution of rice seeds under the bill was reduced to 29.7% from the current 30%, while the allocation of rice seeds was reduced to 29.7% from the current 30%.

Agricultural credit support for farmers has been reduced from 10% to 6%, while agricultural training extension services have been reduced to 6% 3.3% of 10% of the rice fund.

During the period of amendments of the bill, Albay Rep. Edcel C. Lagman Sr. for the removal of a provision allowing the NFA to regulate foreign investment in the rice and corn industries, which the House passed.

“This delisting will also send the message that the rice and corn industry should remain, as much as practicable, with Philippine farmers and entrepreneurs to protect the production and sale of the Philippine staple grains and grains from foreign invaders.Fluence,” said Mr. Lagman.

Coordinator of Action for Economic Reforms Filomeno S. Sta Ana, III. agreed with Mr Lagman’s amendment to the bill and said this is not part of the NFA’s role.