Bicam approves Rice Tariffication Bill

Marje Pelayo   •   November 22, 2018   •   5388

(file photo)

PASAY CITY, Philippines – The Bicameral Conference Committee has approved the rice tariffication bill on Thursday (November 22).

Under the proposal, import restrictions will be lifted on rice importation along with the creation of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (Rice Fund).

According to the Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food Senator Cynthia Villar, the proposed measure will benefit ordinary farmers.

This is through excesses in rice tariff revenues and from the P10-B fixed appropriation on the rice fund that will serve as direct financial assistance to rice farmers.

“If we are successful in the competitive enhancement, katulad ng seeds can increase their harvest from 4 metric tons per hectare to 6 that 50 % increased in productivity we’re rice sufficient,” Villar explained.

The bill is expected to be signed by President Rodrigo Duterte before the end of the year. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

Bicam approves proposed add’l taxes on cigarettes, salty foods, alcohol, vapor products

Maris Federez   •   December 18, 2019

MANILA, Philippines— The two chambers of Congress have agreed on the final version of the Sin Tax Law.

The Bicameral Conference Committee on Wednesday (Dec. 18) approved the bill that proposes an additional tax on cigarettes, salty foods, alcohol and vapor products.

The bill provides for the application of the additional tax on fermented products from Php 35 in 2020 to Php 43 by the year 2024, while distilled products will be imposed with P35 to 66 taxes, wines with added Php 50 tax, and heated tobacco with additional Php 25 in the coming year.

The bicam has also approved the provision that prevents selling to vape products to buyers who are 21 years old and below.

“Kung ikaw ay hindi pa 21, definitely hindi pwede, tatanungin ka pa, nagyoyosi ka ba, kapag hindi ka nagyoyosi hindi ka pwede,” said House Committee on Ways and Means chairman, Rep. Joey Salceda.

This measure seeks to collect Php 24.9-Million taxes, and such will be used in the implementation of the Universal Health Care Act.

“I think all the health advocates sana mas mataas pa as a revenue measure, I had also hope na mas mataas,” Senate Committee on Ways and Means chair Pia Cayetano added.

The approved bill also provided for a clearer rule on VAT exemptions on medicines for diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol.

And by 2023, medicines for mental health, cancer, and tuberculosis will also be VAT-exempt. — (from the report of Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

Lacson exposes alleged last minute ‘pork insertions’ in the 2020 National Budget

Marje Pelayo   •   December 12, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Bicameral Conference Committee finally has approved the P4.1T proposed national budget for next year.

However, Senator Panfilo Lacson revealed some last-minute ‘pork insertions’ in the proposed budget, the reason why he skipped the signing of the bicameral conference report on Wednesday night (December 12).

Lacson said he was sent a USB drive that contained the source files and the list files.

Based on their assessment, the source file contains 1,253 budget items amounting to more than P83-B.

Another file includes projects of congressmen amounting to P16-B that was inserted in the Bicam report.

The Lower House has yet to explain the two files.

It is, therefore, not clear if the total insertion was P83-B or P16-B.

Based on Lacson’s initial list, the provinces that obtained the largest allocations include Albay, Cavite, Sorsogon, Batangas, Bulacan, Pangasinan, and Cebu.

These were apart from the 117 flood control projects amounting to more than P3-B that was more suspicious.

Lacson expects President Rodrigo Duterte to veto the said questionable line items in the national budget.

Senator Vicente Sotto III said he will clarify with Senator Lacson the details of his discovery and to assess whether or not to elevate the issue to the President.

“Ang mangyayari sa atin ngayon niyan, in order not to delay the budget, we will just inform the Executive department. That’s the assessment of the Senate,” Sotto concluded. – MNP (with details from Nel Maribojoc)

Rice traders push for stronger measure vs rice cartels, smuggling

FREEMA Gloria   •   February 26, 2019

METRO MANILA, Philippines – Alyansa ng Industriyang Bigas, a group of rice traders are appealing for a strong measure against rice cartels and smuggling to be included in the implementing Rules and Regulation that is being crafted for the Rice Tariffication Law.

Its founding chairman, Robert Hernandez, said that the illegal activities usually cause rice prices to increase in the market.

“Itong mga smuggler, itapon lang nila ang P200, may kita sila P150 sa P1,000, masaya na sila. Malaking kita na yan sa rice businesses. The government will do something. Included sa IRR measures how to eradicate those smugglers,” he said.

Hernandez added that, aside from the measures that the government will impose to help the local farmers, it must also monitor the cost that the retailers group will charge on top of the suggested retail price.

Under the Rice Tariffication Law, the 24-year implementation of the quantitative restriction on rice imporation has been replaced by a 35% tariff on rice importation from within ASEAN private traders.

This new system may result in the inflow of cheaper rice in the market, and the NFA rice will eventually be eliminated.

It will be recalled that one of the most significant issues raised before was the monopoly on rice supply wherein the name of Davidson Bangayan, was floated as a suspected big time rice smuggler.

The Department of Justice released a resolution in November 2018, and filed charges against Bangayan.

However, with the new tariffication law on rice, 10 billion pesos will be annually allocated to the Rice Competitive Enhancement Fund.

This will directly help the Flipino farmers in improving the volume of their harvest.

Pres. Rodrigo Duterte signed into law the Rice Tariffication Law or the Republic Act. No. 11203 on February 04, 2019 and it is expected to be imposed on March 05, 2019. – Freema Salonga-Gloria (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

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