Agriculture sector to get P20 billion yearly if …

By: Inquirer.net August 02,2018 - 09:32 PM

DA Secretary backs House bill to replace restrictions on imported rice with taxes

The agriculture sector will get at least P20 billion a year if the proposed Revised Agricultural Tariffication Act, which is being deliberated at Congress’ lower chamber will be made into law.

Secretary Emmanuel Piñol of the Department of Agriculture (DA) said this during DA’s budget briefing at the House of Representatives on Thursday where he showed his support for House Bill 7735 or the Revised Agricultural Tariffication Act.

The bill seeks to replace quantitative restrictions on imported rice with tariffs or taxes.

If the measure is enacted into law, Piñol said it would bring in at least P20 billion every year to the agriculture sector.

At this point, Piñol asked Congress to make sure that under the bill tariffs collected from imported rice would go directly to the agricultural sector or to the farmers.

“Para mabigyan sila ng magandang binhi para we could double the harvest of our farmers,” he said.

Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman then proposed an amendment to the bill.

Lagman said the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) should “automatically be appropriated and released periodically to the DA without going through the General Appropriations Act” to “guarantee that it will directly benefit our farmers.”

The RCEF is a fund created under the proposed measure which would consist of all duties collected from the importation of rice.

Aside from his push for House Bill 7735, Piñol also clarified that the agriculture sector did not cause the increase in the country’s inflation in the recent months.

He said that the price of rice was “just reacting to inflation.”

The Secretary also attributed inflation to the high cost of fuel, which he said increased farmer’s cost of production.

Piñol said, inflation, as well as “very high inputs and very low production of rice,” and insufficient irrigation facilities, has caused the increase in the prices of rice.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) has reported that June inflation, which jacked up to 5.2 percent, was “primarily brought about by a higher annual rate posted in the heavily weighted food and nonalcoholic beverages index at 6.1 percent.”

It added that the food-alone index rose 5.8 percent in June, due to the 4.7 percent price increase in rice.

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