Rice tariffication to protect farmers, solon insists

CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija – A Nueva Ecija legislator maintained that the newly-implemented Rice Tariffication Law is a well-crafted piece of legislation which will eventually benefit Filipino farmers and put them at par with their counterparts in Vietnam and Thailand.

Rep. Rosanna Vergara said she initially articulated her reservations about the bill to Rep. Arthur Yap, a former agriculture secretary and House of Representatives Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“I told them about my concern. What will happen to the farmers, to the rice farmers primarily those in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija. They told me that the objective of the law is not to kill the farmers but to help,” Vergara said in Filipino.

She said it was explained to her that the law will actually help local rice farmers because the taxes collected from rice importation will then be used to purchase hybrid rice to be given to them.

She also noted that the government has already allocated the PHP10 billion this year even before the tariffication is imposed.

The lady solon stressed that the noble objective to help farmers was the one that made her support the proposal amid controversies surrounding it.

“The PHP10-billion is for the farmers, to help them reduce the prices of their palay, so that when the cheap palay enters the domestic market, locally grown rice will still be competitive,” she said, referring to the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).

The law, Republic Act 11203, was made after the quantitative restrictions that weres provided under the World Trade Organization (WTO) lapsed in 2017.

Under this law, the government imposes 35 percent tariff for rice imported from ASEAN countries and 50 percent for those coming from non-ASEAN states.

The taxes, estimated at PHP10-billion annually, will be used as RCEF wherein PHP5 billion will go to mechanization to be implemented by the PhilMech, PHP3billion for the production of quality seeds, PHP1 billion for loan facilities and PHP1 billion for farmers’ training.

Vergara assured she, as a member of the House committee on rules, will see to it that the fund will be properly used in accordance with its purpose. (PNA)


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