Senators are eyeing the passage of the Rice Tariffication Bill before the year ends as one of the measures to ensure stable supply of rice and provide safety net for local farmers.
Senator Sonny Angara is confident the proposed law, which is now up for third and final reading in the Senate, will be signed by President Rodrigo Duterte by December.
“We give to private sector the power to import rice since only NFA (National Food Authority) and few traders are in control of rice importation. This measure will not allow the big traders to dictate the price of rice,” Angara told reporters.
“We give to private sector the power to import rice.”
The law will ensure stable supply of rice in the market and generate more taxes from rice imports, Angara said. The Senate has started the interpellation of Senate Bill No. 1998 on September 19.
The proposed bill replaces the quantitative import restriction on rice with tariffs and lifts the quantitative exports restrictions on rice.
The measure has been certified as urgent by the President in his recent State of the Nation Address.
“This measure will not allow the big traders to dictate the price of rice.”
Senator Grace Poe, in a separate interview, said since rice tariffication will affect local producers, the bill has placed some safety nets to minimize losses among farmers.
“Collections from rice tariffs can be used as financial assistance to farmers’ groups for the procurement of seedlings, fertilizers, pesticide, and other production support needs,” Poe told reporters.
A key feature of the bill is the creation of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund or the Rice Fund with an initial appropriation of P10 billion sourced from the national budget until such time there is enough collection from tariff.
Angara and Poe were in Tacloban City recently to join the 10th Oktubafest, the showcase of best local wine known as “tuba” (coconut wine).
The festival is the local version of the popular German “Octoberfest” beer festival.
Thousands of tuba producers, officials, and students gathered at the City’s Astrodome for the annual event organized by An Waray Partylist.