Rice Tarrification Law, importation ‘ravage’ agricultural sector — Marcos

Maris Federez   •   December 6, 2021   •   212

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential aspirant, former senator Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos believes that rice importation being adopted by the government has been posing a challenge to the agricultural sector.

Marcos made the statement during the Agri 2022 online forum where the topic of suspending the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law surfaced.

“I understand that during the crisis, during the pandemic, our government decided to use importations to maintain the price of rice. Okay, that’s been effective. [But] the problem with importation and the Rice Tarrification Law is that it ravages the local agriculture,” Marcos said.

“But in the short term there’s still much that we can do. I think, ako, I wouldn’t mind if we suspend the Rice Tarrification Law first because it’s really destroying [the industry]. NFA is now buying Php18 to Php19. People don’t plant anymore at Php19,” he added.

Marcos also said that there are now very few younger generations who would want to venture into agriculture due to very small revenues being actually earned by farmers. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

House probes sudden drop of palay prices

Maris Federez   •   October 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives has launched an investigation on the sudden drop in the price of palay in the provinces.

Newly harvested palay are reportedly being sold at Php9 to Php19 only; while dried palay are for sale for about Php12 to Php23.

According to Nueva Ecija 1st District Representative Estrellita Suansing, the very low price of palay is severely affecting the farmers.

“The buying price of palay continues to drop and it is making it hard for our farmers to recover from the production cost,” said Suansing.

Some groups are pointing at the Rice Tarrification Law as the cause for the losses that farmers are incurring.

The said law paved the way for fewer restrictions on rice importation.

Sorsogon 1st District Representative Evelina Escudero said due to the low price of palay, farmers resort to selling their freshly harvests to rice traders instead of the government.

“I’ve seen that farmers are not selling their palay to the Department of Agriculture or the NFA [National Food Authority] but to rice traders, so medyo hindi tama yun,” Escudero said.

The NFA, on the other hand, insisted that they buy directly from the farmers.

“Ang ating procurement period ay depende kung kailan pwede ng maani ang ating mga palay. Hindi naman po sabay sabay ang pagtatanim ng ating mga farmers,” said NFA Administrator Judy Carol Dansal.

Dansal said the agency has only around Php1 billion left in their fund of Php7 billion from buying locally produced palay.

The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), meanwhile, said that rice importation should not be blamed for the drop in prices of palay.

NEDA Director Nieva Natural said local farmers lack the equipment and technology and these play a big role in their revenue loss.

“We think that the low palay price experienced in some areas is primarily due to lack of bargaining power of farmers,” Natural said.

Under the Rice Tarrification Law, a Rice Competitive Enhancement Fund of Php10 billion was allocated to support the farmers. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

DA targets 20.47 million MT of palay for 2021

Marje Pelayo   •   January 8, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Agriculture Secretary William Dar has attributed the country’s bountiful harvest last year to the various programs of the Department of Agriculture (DA) despite the calamities and pandemic that affected the Philippines.

Based on the DA’s record, the local production of rice has reached 19.44 million metric tons, which is higher than the 19.27 million metric tons recorded in 2017.

The DA said that one of the programs that helped farmers produce more is the Rice Competitiveness and Enhancement Fund under the Rice Tariffication Law.

The DA’s projection for the local production of rice for the year 2021 is 20.47 million metric tons while the Department’s projection for rice importation this year is 1.69 million metric tons.

Dar said the harvest last year represented more than 90% of the total requirement of the country.

Meanwhile, the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) emphasized the need to improve local rice production so as not to depend on importation.

This was after reports that Vietnam is eyeing importation of rice from India.

The Philippines is getting more than 90% of its import requirement from Vietnam.

“Ang mga dumadaan na bagyo dito dumadaan din ng bagyo sa area na iyon (Vietnam). So we expect na kung bumagsak din ang production nila, they have to buy from other places,” SINAG President Rosendo So.

Secretary Dar clarified, however, that the grains that Vietnam bought from India are used for feed manufacturing and breweries. 

“Vietnam buys 100% broken rice for their feed manufacturing and breweries because it is cheaper. They export their rice fetching a higher price and they have 7.1 m metric tons for export accordingly,” Dar said. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Finance chief orders BIR, BOC to probe coops used for rice imports

Robie de Guzman   •   November 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has ordered the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs to assist in the investigation being conducted by the Department of Agriculture (DA) into the reported use of cooperatives by private traders as dummies for rice imports.

“There’s this question now as to why traders are using coops to import rice …. Let’s look into that because they might be using the tax advantage on rice imports,” Dominguez told BIR Commissioner Caesar Dulay and BOC Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero during a recent executive committee meeting.

Dominguez issued the directive following the DA’s decision to temporarily halt the issuance of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances (SPSIC) to farmers’ cooperatives and irrigators’ associations for commercial purposes.

Through Administrative Order No. 34 issued in October, the DA suspended the SPSICs to coops and irrigators’ associations, effectively barring them from importing rice, after the DA received reports that these organizations have resorted to rice imports rather than carry out their purpose of procuring local rice from farmers.

Both the DOF and DA have also received reports that the SPSICs issued to cooperatives have been misused by traders to avoid legal responsibilities and evade the payment of the correct amount of import taxes.

Finance Undersecretary Antonette Tionko also noted that while cooperatives are not exempted from paying duties for importing rice, they can be exempted from paying the income tax on these imports if they are registered with the BIR as tax-exempt entities.

Through the AO, the DA directed the Bureau of Plant Industry to probe and to consult with affected stakeholders “to come up with new policies and rules to avoid circumvention of the laws” and to protect the farmers and cooperatives form exploitation.

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