Thousands of rice farmers affected by low palay prices are set to receive a total of P3 billion in cash subsidy before Christmas, Deputy Speaker LRay Villafuerte said earlier.
Andy G. Zapata Jr./File
House approves resolution for palay purchase
Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - November 13, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives approved on third and final reading yesterday a resolution allowing the use of the remaining P6.97-billion rice subsidy fund for the purchase of palay (unhusked rice) from local farmers.

Lawmakers stamped their approval on House Joint Resolution 22 allowing the use of government funds from the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) for buying palay, which shall then be distributed to beneficiaries. The resolution was approved by 206 of close to 300 House members.

Through this scheme, the national government will be able to help local farmers recover from the adverse effects of the Rice Tariffication Law, which has slashed prices to a record low of P7 per kilo.

The funds, now with the Department of Social Welfare and Development, will be transferred to the National Food Authority (NFA), which promised to buy palay for P19 per kilo. The NFA is under the Department of Agriculture.

Thousands of rice farmers affected by low palay prices are set to receive a total of P3 billion in cash subsidy before Christmas, Deputy Speaker LRay Villafuerte said earlier.

The P5,000 financial aid for each farmer will come from billions in revenues from higher tariffs under Republic Act 11203, or the Rice Tariffication Law, the Camarines Sur congressman said.

As of October, the government has collected more than P11 billion in taxes from rice importation.

Of the collections, some P10 billion was allocated to the rice competitiveness enhancement fund (RCEF) set up under the law for specific programs, while the excess may be used as additional aid to farmers, he said.           

Another deputy speaker, Mikee Romero of party-list group 1-Pacman, said aside from cash subsidy, rice farmers “will also receive other forms of assistance like free seeds and farm implements to reduce their production cost and increase their yield.”

He recalled that agriculture officials led by Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan told congressmen two months ago that the Department of Budget and Management had already released a total of P5 billion out of the RCEF.

Quoting officials, he said P2 billion was given to the Philippine Rice Research Institute and another P2 billion to the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization for the production or procurement of seeds and farm machinery.

“The seeds and tools should be available by now, if not soon, so farmers could use them for the next planting season,” he said.

He said the remaining P1 billion was released to government banks for lending to farmers “so they would not go to loan sharks for production money.”

FARMERS PALAY RICE
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