Albay 2nd district Rep. Joey Salceda, chair of the House ways and means committee, filed last Wednesday House Bill No. 5669 seeking to create an emergency fund for the benefit of rice farmers in the form of conditional cash transfer, amounting to P7,000 to each affected farmer.
The STAR/File
House bill seeks P8.4 billion more for rice farmers
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - November 29, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A ranking lawmaker yesterday pushed for a supplemental budget of P8.4 billion for this year to address needs of farmers severely affected by plummeting prices due to the Rice Tariffication Law.

Albay 2nd district Rep. Joey Salceda, chair of the House ways and means committee, filed last Wednesday House Bill No. 5669 seeking to create an emergency fund for the benefit of rice farmers in the form of conditional cash transfer, amounting to P7,000 to each affected farmer.

“While the entry of a record volume of rice imports is a major cause of decline in the buying price of palay, the high cost of palay production is very much a contributor to this income loss too,” the lawmaker explained.

The proposed measure prioritizes areas where palay prices have plunged below P17/kilo at the farmgate; areas where palay farmers cultivate lands two hectares and below; and major rice producing provinces.

It requires famers to be part of cooperatives to avail themselves of the cash transfer program. The Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Department of Agriculture will be the implementing agencies.

Salceda explained the high cost of production could be attributed to overdue farm modernization, high input costs, lack of post-harvest facilities, lack of access to affordable credit and lack of training in coping with climate change.

“The Rice Tariffication Law is designed to utilize revenues derived from tariffs on rice imports to fund programs that will modernize rice farming and address other factors that make palay farming costly. However, these programs have gestation periods that go beyond a single cropping season,” the lawmaker-economist pointed out.

Earlier this month, the House approved a joint resolution allowing the use of nearly P10 billion in additional funds this year for palay buying to prop up the price of the produce of millions of rice farmers.

Under Joint Resolution No. 19, a total of P9.9 billion would be turned over to the National Food Authority (NFA) to augment its palay procurement budget.

The measure mandates that the P600 rice subsidy per month of beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps would be pooled and used by the NFA to buy palay from farmers at P19 per kilo.

The House also announced that P3 billion from rice importation taxes would be used as additional subsidy to be distributed to rice farmers before Christmas.

The Rice Tariffication law removed quantitative restrictions on the volume of imported rice, imposing tariffs on rice imports instead. This allows anyone to import rice as long as 35-45 percent in import taxes are paid.

Bantay Bigas, which monitors rice prices, said removing the limits on rice importation has hurt farmers through low palay prices.

The group recorded prices P10 to P12 per kilogram of palay in some areas and as low as P7 per kilogram in Isabela and Tarlac provinces.

. JOEY SALCEDA RICE TARIFFICATION LAW
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