Philippine Daily Inquirer - - BUSINESS - —BENDEVERA INQ

Re­mov­ing the im­port quota and slap­ping tar­iff on rice would gen­er­ate up to P28 bil­lion in yearly rev­enue that the gov­ern­ment can use to sup­port farm­ers, state plan­ning agency Na­tional Eco­nomic and De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity said.

In a re­cent pre­sen­ta­tion, Neda As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary Car­los Abad San­tos said that if a 35per­cent tar­iff would be im­posed on rice im­ports, the gov­ern­ment could col­lect be­tween P7 bil­lion and P28 bil­lion a year, which could fund pro­grams and projects for af­fected lo­cal farm­ers.

The im­po­si­tion of tar­iff will also ben­e­fit con­sumers as re­tail prices of rice would fall by P4-7 a kilo, Abad San­tos added.

The Neda of­fi­cial said there was a “need to act quickly to sta­bi­lize rice sup­ply.”

“Rice in­fla­tion posted dou­ble-digit growth of over 11 per­cent in 2014 due to re­stric­tion in im­ports, but de­creased in 20152016 due to suf­fi­cient sup­ply in the mar­ket. In the first four months of 2018, rice in­fla­tion has started to pick up. The gov­ern­ment should be vig­i­lant in en­sur­ing ad­e­quate sup­ply,” he said.

In the Philip­pines’ state­ment dur­ing the re­cent 74th ses­sion of the United Na­tions Eco­nomic and So­cial Com­mis­sion for Asia and the Pa­cific, Neda Un­der­sec­re­tary Rose­marie G. Edil­lon said that “the ap­proval of the leg­is­la­tion to re­move im­port quo­tas on rice to re­duce rice prices is an­other crit­i­cal propoor mea­sure that needs to be put in place in the im­me­di­ate term given that 20 per­cent of the to­tal con­sump­tion of the poor rep­re­sents rice."

Last week, So­cioe­co­nomic Plan­ning Sec­re­tary Ernesto M. Per­nia said that amid a high in­fla­tion en­vi­ron­ment, “the more en­dur­ing so­lu­tions will re­quire struc­tural re­forms,” es­pe­cially in terms of food prices.

“We con­tinue to pres­sure Congress to amend Repub­lic Act No. 8178 or the Agri­cul­tural Tar­if­fi­ca­tion Act. The lift­ing of quan­ti­ta­tive re­stric­tions or QRs on rice should be pur­sued in earnest, as it will re­duce the re­tail price of rice. This will in­crease the pur­chas­ing power of low-in­come house­holds, aside from bring­ing down in­fla­tion,” said Per­nia, who also heads Neda.

Per­nia ear­lier noted that the price of palay rose

by 10 per­cent year-on-year so far this year. “We also need to re­struc­ture the Na­tional Food Au­thor­ity to rid it of its im­port mo­nop­oly and trad­ing func­tions, so that it can fo­cus on buf­fer stock­ing to meet emer­gen­cies. This re­form is necessary for NFA to fo­cus on its func­tion of main­tain­ing a na­tional buf­fer stock for food se­cu­rity, and re­frain from rice trad­ing to avoid dis­tort­ing the mar­ket,” ac­cord­ing to Per­nia.

“More­over, we also need to ad­dress ris­ing prices of fresh fish, meat, and vegeta­bles. As de­mand con­tin­ues to rise with a grow­ing pop­u­la­tion and ex­pand­ing econ­omy, re­duc­ing food in­fla­tion is necessary to in­crease peo­ple’s pur­chas­ing power,” Per­nia added.

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