Rice tariffication, 13 other bills certified as urgent
(The Philippine Star) - July 16, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines -  A bill liberalizing rice trade in the country through tariffication has been certified urgent by the executive committee of the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC-ExCom) along with 13 other priority measures, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said over the weekend.

A bill amending the Agricultural Tariffication Act of 1996 is on top of the list of priority measures that will be endorsed by the executive committee for adoption in the next LEDAC meeting and subsequent approval by the President.

The other bills identified as urgent were the Unified National Identification System Act, Security of Tenure Bill (End of Endo/Contractualization), Utilization of the Coconut Levy Fund, National Transport Act, Budget Reform Act, National Land Use Act, Rightsizing of the National Government, Amendments to the Anti-Cybercrime Act, Amendments to the NIA Charter RE: Free Irrigation Act, Amendment to Public Service Act, Ease of Doing Business Act/Fast Business Permit Act, Government Procurement Reform Act Amendments, and the Tax Reform bill.

The administration wants to pass these priority bills into law within the year, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said.

The rice tariffication bill, in particular, needs to be passed immediately to prevent trade backlash by member states of the World Trade Organization (WTO) following the three-year extension of the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice imports that entails restricting the volume of inbound rice shipments to 805,200 metric tons (MT) at 35 percent tariff.

“We need rice tariffication because the import quantitative restriction (QR) allowed by WTO already ended. This is to prevent uncertainty as to what the demands of WTO members will be following the lapse of the QR,” said Pernia.

While the tariffication bill is passing through the legislative mill, the Philippines may be compelled to extend trade concessions or several products to appease WTO member countries that may be affected by the extension.

NEDA said the 14 bills are part of the 28 measures included in the proposed Common Legislative Agenda (CLA) reviewed and vetted by the NEDA-LEDAC Secretariat.

The CLA consists of measures which were prioritized based on the President’s Legislative Agenda (PLA) and the Common Legislative Priorities of Congress (CLPC).

The LEDAC is the high-level body advising the President on economic and development matters to integrate the legislative agenda with the national development plan.

The council is composed of high-level officials from the government’s executive and legislative branches, with representatives from the private sector, and local government units.

The law compels LEDAC to meet quarterly but it may be convened by the president for special meetings if needed.

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