Reelectionist Senator Sonny Angara is urging government to ensure that support and benefits under the newly enacted rice tariffication law reach rice farmers and help them cope with the lifting of the quantitative restrictions on rice imports.
“The government must ensure that support measures under the law will be fully realized for the benefit of our local rice farmers,” Angara said while campaigning in New Ecija, known as the “rice granary of the Philippines” because of its farms dedicated to producing the staple grain.
Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Act lifts the import restrictions on rice, subject to 35 percent tariff for rice imported from the ASEAN (Assoiation of South East Asian Nations)and 50 percent for rice imported from non-ASEAN countries.
According to the seasoned legislator, the law has built-in safeguards to protect local farmers from the impact of a free flow of imports.
“The law has built-in safeguards to protect local farmers from the impact of a free flow of imports.”
“Habang pinaluluwag natin ang patakaran sa pag-angkat ng bigas para gawing abot-kaya ang halaga nito, kailangan din nating bigyan ng ayuda ang mga magsasaka para sila ay maging produktibo at kayang makipagsabayan sa rice importers,” the veteran lawmaker said.
The senator said a Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) will be created under the law. Initial funding of P10 billion for the RCEF will be included in the General Appropriations Act.
“A Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund will be created under the law.”
The RCEF seeks to provide various forms of assistance to rice farmers, such as development of inbred rice seeds, rice farm equipment and skills enhancement.
The fund will also serve as a special safeguard to protect the rice industry, which will be distributed, accordingly: 50 percent for machinery and equipment; 30 percent for rice seed development, propagation and promotion; 10 percent for expanded rice credit assistance; and 10 percent for rice extension services.