Sunday, December 10, 2023

PBBM Thumbs Down Proposed Rice Tariff Reduction


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President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Tuesday bucked 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,” he said.

The President made the remarks after the sectoral meeting in Malacañang, where the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) presented updates on the proposed rice tariff reduction, according to a news release of the Presidential Communications Office.

The updates include inputs from the Department of Finance, Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Budget and Management.

Farmer groups earlier said importers are set to gain if rice tariff will be suspended because some businessmen are already undervaluing rice. It is also seen to hurt the prices of palay (unhusked rice).

NEDA earlier recommended the reduction of tariff pegged on imported rice to help lower local rice prices, which will eventually lead to the simultaneous lifting of Executive Order (EO) No. 39 that set a price cap on regular and well-milled rice.

However, during the meeting, NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan and Department of Agriculture Undersecretaries Leocadio Sebastian and Mercedita Sombilla agreed that it is not the time yet to lower tariff rates because of the declining prices in the international market.

EO 39, which took effect Sept. 5, mandated a PHP41 per kilo price ceiling for regular milled rice and PHP45 per kilo for well-milled rice.

Asked if the government will lift the implementation of EO 39, Marcos said: “Pag-aralan natin mabuti (We will carefully study it).” (PNA)

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