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Business

Government generates P47 billion in duties from rice imports

Elijah Felice Rosales - The Philippine Star
Government generates P47 billion in duties from rice imports
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said the revenues were generated via the imposition of duties on rice imports in the first three years of implementation of Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The government has generated P47 billion from tariffs collected on rice imports as it reminded the next administration about the measure’s importance to tax efforts.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said the revenues were generated via the imposition of duties on rice imports in the first three years of implementation of Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL).

Dominguez said the law also secures funding support of at least P10 billion every year until 2024 for the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).

The RCEF is a yearly allocation that the government channels for programs and projects to raise the competitiveness of rice farmers.

About half of the amount or P5 billion goes to the Philippine Center for Postharvest and Mechanization for the procurement of new equipment.

Likewise, the RCEF injects P3 billion in the Philippine Rice Research Institute for the propagation of inbred seeds to be given out to palay farmers, while P1 billion is invested via state-run banks to sustain a credit facility for rice cooperatives.

The RCEF also puts P1 billion into various agencies tasked to develop modules on new farming techniques and rice crop production.

According to Dominguez, the law that slaps tariff on imported rice should be kept in place to maximize the gains that it provides for rice farmers and the agriculture sector.

“This law is an opportunity to revolutionize the agriculture sector and help our farmers become more competitive in the global economy,” Dominguez said.

After the May 9 polls, economic managers have highlighted the contributions of the RTL to the economy, especially to agriculture.

The economic team is trying to persuade the next administration of presumptive president Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to maintain the measure during his term.

Speaking to agriculture stakeholders last year, Marcos committed to suspend the law should he win the presidency, as he wants to reduce rice importation in favor of local purchases.

The presidential frontrunner said the importation policy promoted under the RTL forces rice farmers to abandon the fields and, in consequence, sinks the farm output of the Philippines.

Last week Dominguez said the passage of the RTL in 2019 proved to be critical in trimming the per kilo price of rice to P39 as of April from a high of P46 in 2018.

As the RTL converted the import volume cap into tariffs, Dominguez said it succeeded in bringing down rice prices to the benefit of low-income Filipinos who spend around 16 percent of their family budget on the staple.

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