DOF orders tighter watch on rice imports following tariff cuts

Robie de Guzman   •   June 7, 2021   •   552

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Finance (DOF) on Monday ordered the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to keep a tighter watch on incoming rice imports to ensure the proper collection of taxes following the implementation of tariff rate cuts.

In a statement, the DOF said Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III issued the directive pursuant to President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order 135, which mandates the temporary adjustment of tariff rates on rice imports to offset the effect on consumers of the continuous increase in the price of rice from other countries, particularly those coming from ASEAN countries, and thereby reduce inflationary pressures.

The DOF said the EO 135 would enable the country to diversify its market sources for rice and maintain the stable supply and affordable price of the cereal for Filipino consumers.

Dominguez cited India as a possible source of cheap rice imports.

“I think there will be a shift in the imports of Thai and Vietnamese rice, and Burmese (Myanmar) rice, to rice from other countries where the value is much lower. Just keep an eye on that,” Dominguez told Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero during a recent executive committee meeting.

During the meeting, Guerrero said the BOC is currently reviewing the valuation of rice shipments from Vietnam, noting that most of the imports from there were “declared with values lower than the published prevailing prices for such exports from that country.”

“We discovered that many of these importations are under a tentative assessment so we are reviewing the payments,” Guerrero said.

He said the average value of rice imports, coming mostly from Vietnam, dropped 12.7 percent to P19,312 per metric ton (MT) in May 2021, compared to P22,119 per MT in the same month last year.

The average value of rice in May was also lower than the P21,066 per MT recorded in April and P22,119 per MT in March.

Guerrero previously reported increasing tariff collections despite lower import volumes because of a steady improvement in the BOC’s valuation system.

Preliminary data showed that from January 1 to April 30, a total of 804,360MT of rice shipments worth P17 billion entered the country, representing a 9.2-percent decline from the 885,645MT valued at P16.4 billion that were imported during the same period last year.

Nat’l rollout ng bakuna sa mga bata vs COVID-19, magsisimula sa Nob. 5 – NVOC

Robie de Guzman   •   October 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Sa ika-5 ng Nobyembre ay opisyal nang sisimulan ng pamahalaan ang nationwide rollout ng COVID-19 vaccination sa lahat ng mga batang may edad na 12 hanggang 17.

Ayon sa National Vaccination Operations Center (NVOC), sa ika-3 ng Nobyembre ang kick-off ng programa sa National Capital Region (NCR) at mga rehiyong handa nang magbakuna sa mga kabataan.

Ang COVID-19 pediatric vaccination ay kasalukuyang isinasagawa sa NCR para sa mga batang may co-morbidities. Nasa Phase 2 na ang programa sa kasalukuyan at isinasagawa ito sa mahigit 20 ospital at mga pasilidad sa rehiyon.

Ayon kay NVOC chairperson at Health Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje, nasa pasya ng mga lokal na pamahalaan ang gagamiting venue at schedule ng gagawing pagbabakuna sa mga bata.

Ngunit paalala ni Cabotaje, kailangang planuhing maigi ang rollout nito dahil mga bata ang babakunahan.

“We will leave it to the discretion of the local government units. Iyong mga bakuna center in general pareho iyan sa adult… Baka i-extend ang time considering some distance problems or kaya naman Sabado o Linggo,” ani Cabotaje.

Walang specific na dates. Basta gusto natin mabakunahan as fast as many and with minimum wastage and safety ang ating prime consideration,” dagdag pa niya.

“Tapos alam naman natin magugulo ang mga bata, tapos may kasama pa sila. So preferably, hiwalay na lane o kaya hiwalay na kwarto ang paggagawan. Or some LGUs will have separate schedule days.”

Pareho lang aniya ang guidelines sa pagbabakuna ng mga batang may co-morbidity at sa mga wala at requirement pa rin ang consent ng mga magulang at assent ng mga bata bago bakunahan.

“Ang kaibahan lang ay yung sa rest of the pediatric population, we will not require a medical certificate or a medical clearance from the attending doctor kasi we presume na hindi naman may sakit ito, they are healthy and they have no history of any illness. Pero itutuloy pa rin natin yung ating screening,” ang paliwanag ni Cabotaje.

“Mas mataas ang incidence ng ating pericarditis, myocariditis sa mga bata kaya kailangan ma-explain ito sa mg nanay whether may comorbid iyan or walang comorbidity,” dagdag pa niya.

May special precaution aniya sa mga menor de edad kaya mas tututukan ng Department of Health (DOH) ang monitoring sa kanilang kalagayan.

“May mga ibang side effects na hindi nakikita sa adult kagaya ng anxiety reaction. ‘Di ba gaya ng bata, natatakot na mabakunahan siya, puwede siyang mag-faint, bihirang mga adults ang nagfe-faint, wala pa yata akong nakitang nag- faint, iyong tumataas ang heart rate,” ani Cabotaje.

At dahil mas malawak na ang pagbabakuna, kailangan ng mas madaming pwersa ng mga bakunador kaya kumuha na rin ang DOH ng iba pang healthcare workers.

Pinapayuhan ng vaccine cluster at mga lokal na pamahalaan ang mga magulang na makipag-ugnayan sa mga otoridad sa scheduling at registration sa pagbabakuna ng kanilang mga anak.

Batay sa tala ng Philippine Statistics Authority, mayroong 12.7 million na mga batang Pilipino na may edad 12 hanggang 17. – RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

Suspension of fuel excise tax, detrimental to economic recovery — DOF

Maris Federez   •   October 28, 2021


MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Finance (DOF) expressed before the House Committee on Energy its opposition to the proposed suspension of excise tax on petroleum products.

The DOF warned that suspending the imposition of excise tax on fuel will cost the government about Php131.4 billion in revenue for 2022 which, according to the agency, is detrimental to economic recovery.

“The unrealized public spending and the investments from the foregone revenues will also be detrimental to our economic recovery and long-term growth,” said DOF director Euvimil Nina Asuncion.

Asuncion said that providing a targeted subsidy to the transportation sector will be more equitable than removing all fuel excise taxes which may only subsidize the consumption of higher-income households.

The Department of Energy (DOE), however, estimated suspending the excise tax on petroleum products will lower pump prices by about Php8 to Php10 per liter.

“We specifically proposed the suspension of the excise tax because of the urgency in addressing the plight our kababayans,” said DOE Secretary Alfonso Cusi.

House Committee on Energy chairperson Representative Juan Miguel Arroyo confirmed that he will push for the amendment of oil deregulation law and the suspension of the imposition of excise tax on fuel products. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

Duterte calls on ASEAN countries to stand with Myanmar amid coup crisis

Aileen Cerrudo   •   October 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—President Rodrigo Duterte has called on member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to stand with Myanmar amid its coup crisis.

During the 39th ASEAN Summit, Duterte urged all parties in Myanmar to heed the ASEAN’s plea for peace.

“The Philippines urges all parties in Myanmar to engage in constructive dialogue with ASEAN. We are, after all, an ASEAN family. And if we cannot trust each other and work together, then who can Myanmar trust and work with?” he said.

He also urged ASEAN’s special envoy to visit Myanmar soon and meet all the parties involved.

Duterte expressed concern about Myanmar’s rejection of ASEAN’s sincere offers of assistance, stating that it may undermine the mutual trust and confidence that ASEAN-member states share.

Meanwhile, the president said the Philippines will commit to help individuals caught up in “situations beyond their control”.

“Our doors are open to our Rohingya brothers and sisters and other peoples of Myanmar who seek refuge,” he said. AAC


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