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Recto supports lower tariffs on rice



Recto supports lower tariffs on rice

By means of Luisa Maria Jacinta C. Jocson, News reporter

Secretary of the Treasury Ralph G. Recto said he is open to lowering the fareFfs about importing rice to help lower the prices of basic foodstuffs.

Mr. Recto told reporters that rate on MondayFThe fs on imported rice could be reduced from the current 35% to 17.5%.

“You have to find a balance between farmers and consumers. It is better to divide the fare equally,” he said in mixed Filipino and English.

However, the finance chief said he would let the agriculture minister decide the issue.

In December, the government approved the extension of reduced MFN tariffs on several commodities, including rice, until the end of 2024.

TariFRice import tariffs were kept at 35% for shipments within the minimum entry volume and for shipments exceeding this quota.

Mr. Recto said there was an executive order to adjust the ratesFf rate can be issued during Congress’s recess.

“We want it lower. As much as possible, not just until the end of the year. But the executive order may only last until the end of the year… If we have to extend it, we can extend it. What is important is to reduce rice prices,” he said.

However, Mr Recto did not agree with the proposal to lower the tariffFfs on rice import to zero.

The finance chief previously said the selling price of rice could fall by as much as 20% in September due to lower tariffs and higher production.

The latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority shows that rice is coming inFling, who contributed almost half of the totalFrose 23.9% in April.

Department of Agriculture data showed that the average price of local well-milled rice ranged from P48-P55 per kilogram as of May 27, higher than than the P39-P46 series a year ago.

Meanwhile, plain white rice ranged from P45-P53 to P34-P46 per kilogram.

Some analysts welcomed the proposal to cut rice tariffsFfs, as this would provide some relief to consumers.

“I agree with the proposal. Paddy prices may eventually fall to 2023 levels as TariFf-cut is large enough. Consumers will also see some relief from high rice prices,” the Philippine Institute said Development Studies Senior Research Colleague Roehlano M. Briones said in a Viber message.

Roy S. Kempis, director of the Center for Business Innovation at the University of Angeles, said the proposal to lower the rateFfs is the ‘right thing to do’.

“There must be some protection for farmers against cheaper imports or untamed imports that would erode their incentive to produce more and stay in rice farming,” he said in a Viber message.

This rateFfs would also generate much-needed revenue and “discipline Filipinos to be responsible consumers.”

Mr Kempis said the impact of a reduced rateFfs for farmers will also be positive.

“They will be protected from import shocks in volume and in price per unit imported. The government can support local farm prices through the size of the tariffs. Philippine farmers just need decent prices for their palay or rice to continue producing it for consumers to enjoy,” he said.

On the other hand, Jayson H. Cainglet, executive director of Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG), said the lower rateFThe regime in recent years has not brought down rice prices.

“Reduced tariffs due to more rice imports have not lowered rice prices. Local rice prices are high precisely because global rice prices have been rising since last year,” he said in a Viber message.

Mr. Cainglet said the fare was reducedFf tariffs will hurt local producers and only benefit importers and traders.

Data from the Bureau of the Plant Industry shows that rice imports reached 1.89 million tonnes (MT) as of May 9.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects Philippine rice imports to reach 3.9 million tons this year.

‘Like the tariFIf the price is lowered even further, there is no guarantee that rice prices will fall proportionately because experience shows that the importers, middlemen and retailers only pocket the savings,” said Raul Q. Montemayor, national manager of the Federation of Free Farmers, in a Viber message.

“On the other hand, when the undervalued and cheap imports come in, they are dumped on the wholesale market (as opposed to the retail market), and this has a depressing effect on palay prices because local traders who buy palay from farmers lose their white selling rice in the wholesale market as well,” he added.

Mr Montemayor said this would discourage farmers from increasing their own production.

“Allowing cheaper imports does not lead to lower prices for consumers, disadvantages farmers and only benefits those in between,” he added.

Mr Cainglet said the government should not rely solely on imports but also boost local production.

“Extreme weather events and global pandemics are the new normal; that have pushed the rest of the world to become food self-sufficient,” he said.

“Most countries have prepared for this by increasing local production and supporting local producers. Here it is the other way around. Local producers are punished and importers are rewarded and pampered with four consecutive years of reduced tariffsFfs on rice, pork, corn and chicken.”

The House of Representatives approved amendments to the Rice Tariff Bill on second reading earlier this month. The amendments are intended to enable the National Food Authority to sell rice at subsidized prices during emergencies.