Philippines
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Reduced Tariff On Rice Imports Might Actually Help

Rice farmers are opposing the proposed reduced tariff on rice imports

The Department of Finance (DOF) proposed to implement a reduced tariff on rice imports to address the rice “shortage” and the price hike that affects a lot of Filipinos.

Currently, the country is implementing the 35 percent rice import tariff rates, both ASEAN and MFN (most favored nation). The DOF suggested that it will be reduced to anywhere from 0 percent or a maximum of 10 percent.

With this, the problem of the potential impact on the country’s revenue was raised. However, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, based on the report from GMA News, said that this will not affect the revenue because the government has already collected enough.

rice smugglers
📷: CNN Philippines

Amid this issue, farmers and agricultural groups held a protest outside the Department of Finance building to express that they disagreed with the proposed reduced tariff on imported rice.

Based on the report from News5 reporter Shyla Francisco, farmers and agricultural groups were joined by Sen Imee Marcos, Rep. Mark Cojuangcon, Rep. Nic Briones, and former Agriculture Secretary Leonardo Montemayor to also express that they oppose DOF’s proposal.

Sen Imee Marcos,Rep. Mark Cojuangcon,Rep. Nic Briones, and former agri secr Leonardo Montemayor expressed support to farmers during the rally. They fear that the plan to remove tariff will be pushed once the Congress goes on recess this wk. pic.twitter.com/S7nmnJ766B

— Shyla Francisco (@ShylaFrancisco) September 26, 2023

In this issue, I think I’m siding with DOF. Secretary Diokno said that the government has collected P17 billion already. He stressed that the government only needs to collect P10 billion from rice import tariffs.

This is the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) as mandated by the Rice Tariffication law. Under the law, it was stated that a P10 billion annual appropriation would be sourced from rice import tariffs collected.

The RCEF is divided into four key programs: rice farm mechanization (P5 billion), seed propagation (P3 billion), rice credit assistance (P1 billion), and extension services (P1 billion).

Based on the report, the budget will be used for farm machinery and equipment, credit assistance, seed development, and training to increase local rice farmers’ yield and competitiveness.

The amount exceeding the P10 billion target will be put into the Rice Farmer Financial Assistance Program.

reduced tariff on rice imports farmers rally
📷: Shyla Francisco on X

Based on this, I’ll go for the proposed reduced tariff on rice imports. I just hope that the collected amount will be put to where it was supposed to be spent and that the farmers will be the end recipients of this.

Hopefully, this will solve also the problem of the rice price hike that greatly affects many Filipino households. Regarding the farmers and agricultural groups opposing this proposal, I think it would be effective if they would discuss with those in the position their grievances and what they think about the current problem.

I still believe, “walang hindi nadadaan sa mabuting usapan.”

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