NEDA says rice tariffication will help solve country’s rice issue
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said the country must immediately pass the rice tariffication bill in Congress because this could be a significant step in reforming the agricultural sector as well as solve the issues currently hounding the rice sector.
The passage of the bill, which amends Republic Act (RA) No. 8178, otherwise known as the Agricultural Tariffication Act of 1996, will pave the way for the replacement of the quantitative restrictions (QR) on rice imports with tariff.
“This will remove unnecessary government intervention in the rice market, as envisioned by the President during the meeting with rice traders, officials of the National Food Authority (NFA) and members of the NFA Council,” NEDA said.
The members of the NFA Council, which include the NEDA, are responsible for setting the terms of reference including the volume to be imported for the year, the timing of import arrivals and the mode of importation, while the permit to import by a specific trader or importer is being processed by the NFA.
To recall, President Rodrigo Duterte, in “spur of the moment”, said he wanted to abolish NFA Council for its inaction towards the importation.
“The Council considers the projected domestic production vis-à-vis domestic demand within the context of the global trading scenario, domestic inflation, fiscal position and its impact on the income of farmers, “ said NEDA Officer-in-Charge Rosemarie Edillon.
“The role of the Council can be taken on by the full Cabinet, supported by complete staff work from the respective agencies. Whatever the governing body, NEDA stands ready to provide the technical inputs needed,” she added.
But once the quantitative restriction is replaced by predictable tariffs, NEDA expects that the private sector can respond more effectively to market signals and government can focus on regulating to ensure food safety and fair market competition.
“The revenues from the tariff collection can be plowed back to improve the competitiveness of the sector and improve farmers’ incomes,” Edillon said.