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Bicam approves Rice Tariffication Bill

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Thursday, 22 November 2018 05:50 PM

(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)

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Rice industry groups call on Duterte to veto rice tariffication bill

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Thursday, 14 February 2019 12:26 PM

Rice stakeholders protesting against the rice tarrification bill | UNTV News & Rescue

MANILA, Philippines – Several rice industry groups gathered in Mendiola on Thursday (February 14) to protest against the Rice Tariffication Bill which is only a signature away from becoming a law.

The groups call on the President Rodrigo Duterte to veto the measure, citing the possibility of a phase out of low-priced rice in the market currently distributed by the National Food Authority (NFA).

They fear the removal of NFA’s marketing support to local farmers because it will open an opportunity for traders to take advantage of the situation.

The groups also oppose the removal of NFA’s function to regulate and control the importation of rice because it will lead to rampant smuggling and allow businessmen to manipulate the local rice industry.

They said the government should have a strong regulation and control of rice importation similar to how it regulates the entry of imported garlic, onions and other goods.

“Anumang buwan (ay) tuloy-tuloy ang pagiimport ng bigas. Ito ay masama sa ating ekonomiya lalong lalo na sa farmers,” argued Orly Manuntag, national PRO of the Confederation of Grains Retailers Association of the Philippines, Inc. (GRECON).

With such a bill, the group said, NFA will no longer have its function to inspect private warehouses and confiscate hoarded supply because there will be no proper inventory of stocks.

Once the bill is enacted into law, they argued, it will cost the jobs of some 4,000 employees of the NFA.

The decision to ratify the rice tariffication bill now depends on whether President Duterte will sign or veto the measure which is due to lapse on February 15. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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Diokno: Duterte won’t veto Rice Tariffication Bill

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Thursday, 14 February 2019 10:12 AM

MANILA, Philippines — The Rice Tariffication Bill remains pending in the Office of the President after it was ratified by the Senate and House of Representatives (HOR) earlier last year.

If President Rodrigo Duterte will not veto the proposal, it will lapse into law by Friday (February 15).

The bill aims to replace rice import limits with tariff system to liberalize the process by removing non-tariff barriers.

Budget secretary Benjamin Diokno is confident that President Duterte will not veto the bill.

He also sent a letter to the Office of the President strongly urging the signing of the measure.

“We just sent a memo to the president strongly urging the signing of the Rice Tariffication Bill. I understand there are some strong lobby for veto, but let’s wait. It could either lapse into law or the president will approve it; but certainly a veto is not possible I think,” Diokno said.

Once enacted into law, rice traders no longer have to secure import license from the National Food Authority (NFA) as the agency will lose its regulatory function in rice importation.

The Department of Finance (DOF) will also have to resolve the debt of the National Food Authority (NFA) amounting to P200 billion, according to Diokno.

The budget official also added that the economic managers are looking for ways to improve the agriculture sector.

In 2018, the said sector only contributed zero point one percent in the Philippines’ economic growth.

“We have to put pressure on this sector to improve themselves, and increase productivity because right now, they are not competitive. Our production cost is much higher than the whole price of rice for example,” the Budget Secretary noted.

During the last cabinet meeting of President Duterte, the agenda included discussions on alleviating the lives of farmers and fisherfolks, providing them better access to credit and loan facilities and improving agricultural productivity. – Rosalie Coz

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No more NFA rice in local markets if tariffication pushes through – Sec. Piñol

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Tuesday, 18 December 2018 04:22 PM

Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol

MANILA, Philippines – The lowest price of rice in local markets today can be bought at P27 to P32 pesos per kilogram, the cheapest price that the National Food Authority (NFA) can offer.

But according to Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, once the Rice Tariffication Bill is enacted into law, the NFA would have no choice but to buy rice from the local farmers instead of pushing for rice importation.

Piñol explains that the proposed legislature will remove NFA’s regulatory and importation functions and will only serve as keeper of the buffer stocks from domestic farmers for use in time of calamities and other emergencies.

This means that the low-priced NFA rice will no longer be available in the market.

‘One thing is certain. There will be no more P27 rice. Hindi rin sigurado kung magkakaroon pa ng continuous na pagbebenta ng NFA rice sa merkado because the role of the NFA now in the proposed act that will be signed by the President is that of a buffer stocking agency,” Piñol said.

The proposed act will also lift import restrictions on commercial rice and will only allow certain amount of tariff or duties.

Piñol noted that should the agency be allowed to supply rice in markets after the passage of the bill, they can only provide rice for P35 to P36 pesos per kilogram.

Piñol assures, however, that the current stock of NFA’s imported rice is still enough for the next three months.

The Agriculture Secretary added that the government has allocated P10-B peso annual budget intended for farmers’ subsidy to help them minimize production costs while they increase their yield.

The budget also covers free seed and use of agriculture equipment.

Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture (DA) assures to carry on with the implementation of suggested retail price (SRP) on rice under the Price Act to prevent price increase.

Piñol stressed, however, that the government might still incur income losses should it decide to pursue with the rice subsidy plan.

‘Kung P20.70 (per kilo) ang bili namin ng bigas (palay) hindi pwedeng ibenta namin ng P27. Kung ayaw nilang magpalugi. Pero the national government can still tell the NFA: “Ok. Magpalugi kayo. Bilhin ninyo ng P20.70 (per kilo) (at) ibenta ninyo ng P27 (pesos). I-subsidize namin ang remaining (cost).” That could still be possible,” the Secretary concluded.

Meanwhile, comsumer group ‘Laban Konsyumer’ president Atty. Vic Dimagiba believes that it is untimely to remove the NFA rice in local markets considering that 30% of the country’s population consumes the said low-priced staple apart from the possible rise in inflation.

He calls the proposed rice tariffication act is anti-poor therefore, the President should reconsider before signing it.

‘Di pa panahon . Lalong sisipa ang inflation sa pagkain . Yun 30 pct poor consumers na pumipila sa nfa rice na 27 at 32 a kilo naagrabyado na naman. We made that statement in a senate hearing. Anti poor yan desisyon. Dapat pigilan ng Pangulo,’ Dimagiba argued.

As of press time, the bill is just awaiting the signature of President Rodrigo Duterte. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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