President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. bucked on Tuesday the proposal to temporarily implement rice tariff reduction in a bid to address the surge of rice prices in the market.
“We decided with the agriculture and economic managers that … it was not the right time to lower the tariff rates because the projection of world rice prices is that it will go down. So, this is not the right time to lower tariffs. Tariffs are generally lowered when the price is going up,” President Marcos said.
The President made the remarks shortly following the sectoral meeting on Tuesday in Malacañang where NEDA presented updates on the proposed rice tariff reduction with inputs from the Department of Finance (DOF), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
Some farmer groups raised concern over some negative effects should rice tariff reduction be adopted such as that importers would mostly stand to gain with the proposal “because they are already undervaluing rice” and will only “further depress” palay prices and discourage farmers from expanding their future production.
The NEDA recommended earlier a reduction in the tariff imposed on imported rice in a bid to help lower local rice prices in the market, which will eventually lead to the simultaneous lifting of Executive Order (EO) No. 39, imposing the mandated price ceilings on regular and well-milled rice in the market.
However during the said meeting, NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan and Agriculture officials namely Undersecretaries Leocadio Sebastian and Mercedita Sombilla agreed that it was not the right lower tariff rates because of the downtrend of rice prices in the world market.
Under EO 39, which took effect on September 5, the mandated price ceiling on regular rice is at PhP41.00 per kilogram while the mandated price cap on well-milled rice is at PhP45.00 per kilogram.
Asked if the government will lift the implementation of EO 39, President Marcos said it will remain in effect as they have to study the matter carefully.
“Pag-aralan natin mabuti,” the President said.
President Marcos has ordered the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to provide PhP15,000 cash assistance to small rice retailers affected by the implementation of the EO 39 as he distributed sacks of rice to beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) to ensure sufficient food supply for them. | PND
Photo Courtesy by UNTV News