P5.9-B taxes col­lected from lib­er­al­ized rice im­ports

Sun Star Bacolod - - Business -

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.

FILE PHOTO COUR­TESY OF NA­TIONAL FOOD AUTHOR­ITY

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