Senate’s agriculture committee chaired by Senator Cynthia Villar approved on Friday a joint resolution that will allow the government to disburse its excess taxes collected on rice imports as cash assistance to rice farmers.
Senate Joint Resolution No. 12 seeks to authorize the use of excess collections by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) under the Rice Tariffication Act (Republic Act No. 11203) this year to be included in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2021 for assistance to farmers displaced by the pandemic and the plummeting prices of palay.
Reiterating that tariff collection from January to September this year amounted to over P13.61 billion according to the customs, Villar said: “So together, we want that money to be used as cash assistance for the rice farmers.”
The senator noted that RA No. 11203 mandates that if rice importation revenues exceed P10 billion within six years following the law’s enactment, the excess shall be earmarked by Congress to help rice farmers and be included in the GAA.
“[Congress] will choose if they will give it to rice farmers as financial assistance, the titling of agricultural lands, expanded crop insurance program on rice and crop diversification. I think we should put it as financial assistance to rice farmers… Because I think we would prefer to just give it to rice farmers instead of allocating it for programs. The Department of Agriculture (DA) has a lot of programs for rice, anyway,” said Villar.
“Bigay na natin lahat ng excess sa mga farmer…para huwag na nilang sisihihin ‘yong Rice Tariffication,” the senator added, who is also the principal author of the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL)
Since the RTL was enforced in 2019, it has opened the Philippines to an influx of rice imports – albeit with higher tax rates – by removing quotas.
With local farmers unable to compete, the measure threatens to keep pushing local rice prices down. Late in September, the prices of palay plunged to as low as P12 per kilo.