P5.9-B taxes collected from liberalized rice imports
PRELIMINARY data show that the government has so far collected PHP5.9 billion in tariffs from some 1.43 million metric tons (MT) of rice stocks imported by private traders, following the enactment of a law in March that liberalized the importation of the grain, the Department of Finance (DOF) disclosed in a statement on Thursday.
A report to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III by Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero revealed that the Bureau of Customs (BOC) collected the highest amount of rice import tariffs from the Subic Bay port at PHP1.37 billion.
The Port of Manila collected PHP978.51 million in tariffs, followed by the Manila International Container Port with PHP942.76 million, Guerrero said during a recent DOF Executive Committee meeting.
The Port of Cagayan de Oro collected PHP754.13 million in tariffs from rice imports, while the Port of Davao collected PHP703.93 million, the data showed.
Republic Act (RA) 11203 or the Rice Liberalization Act was signed and approved by President Rodrigo Duterte last February 14.
Dominguez has described the rice liberalization law on the shift from quantitative restrictions (QRS) to tariffs on rice imports as a “proud” accomplishment of the Duterte presidency and the DOF, given that it took more than 30 years under various administrations to get the Congress to approve this game-changing reform.
Liberalizing rice imports, he said, will not only make quality rice more affordable and accessible to Filipino families, but will also lower the country’s inflation rate, revolutionize the agriculture sector and help farmers become more productive and competitive in the global economy.
Dominguez said rice tariffication has proved to be challenging because it was “a politically difficult reform to pass." Liberalizing rice imports has made the staple food more affordable to Filipinos, making retail prices this summer cheaper by PHP10 per kilo.
RA 11203 created the Php10-billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) to help palay growers and their farmers' cooperatives transition to a new rice regime.
The RCEF will be used to provide farmers tools and equipment, assistance in the production, promotion, and distribution of certified rice seeds, upgrading of postharvest storage facilities, credit assistance, irrigation support, and research and development (R&D) support.