‘DA recommends raising rice tariffs to 50 percent

Jasper Emmanuel Arcalas - The Philippine Star
�DA recommends raising rice tariffs to 50 percent
Workers arrange sacks of National Food Authority (NFA) palay or unmilled rice inside their warehouse in Balagtas, Bulacan on May 22, 2024.
STAR / Miguel De Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) earlier recommended raising the tariff on rice to 50 percent, in stark contrast to the reduction pushed by some of the country’s economic managers.

Agriculture Undersecretary Asis Perez disclosed this during a Senate hearing on Thursday. 

He said it was not the DA that recommended the reduction of the present 35 percent tariff on rice imports to 15 percent. 

Perez, nonetheless, noted that the DA was consulted regarding the rice tariff reduction.

“Our recommendation is very different (from the 15 percent tariff).  Our recommendation at the time – during the discussions at the CTRM (Committee on Tariff and Related Matters) – was to bring (the rice tariffs) back to 50 percent,” he told the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Food and Agrarian Reform during a hearing on the proposed amendments to the Rice Tariffication Law.

The CTRM is a Cabinet-level inter-agency committee that tackles matters relating to tariffs. It submits its recommendations to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) board, which is chaired by President Marcos. 

The CTRM is chaired by the Trade and Industry Secretary and co-chaired by the NEDA Secretary.

Perez disclosed the information after he was asked by Sen. Imee Marcos on where the DA sided on the recent issue of the rice tariff reduction.

“So what happened is the opposite: the 50 percent (tariff) became 15 percent,” Marcos said.

The reduction of rice tariffs was part of the country’s comprehensive tariff program for 2024 to 2028, which was approved by the NEDA board last June 3.

During the same hearing, Roehlano Briones, senior research fellow at Philippine Institute Development Studies, said the rice tariff cut approved by the NEDA board would result in P9.4 billion in government revenue losses.

The projected drop in rice prices would be about P7.6 per kilogram as a result of the expected ballooning in rice imports due to more attractive tariff rates, Briones said. Briones’ estimates for the rice price decline aligns with the earlier estimate of as much as P7 per kilogram drop made by the Philippine Statistics Authority.

Furthermore, the farm gate price of palay is projected to drop by P3.56 per kilogram, he added.

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