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Farmers’ group: Rice tariff law results to P44B in economic losses

By: Russel Loreto - | May 06,2024 - 12:04 PM


MANILA, Philippines — A farmers’ group wants to get rid of the rice tariffication law or Republic Act No. 11203. They don’t think the changes proposed by the House of Representatives will fix the problem of expensive rice. Instead, they want a new law that helps farmers and the people better.

“Congress created the problem, that is, the rice tariffication law. Lawmakers cannot simply undo the problem by tweaking parts and provisions of the despicable law,” Danilo Ramos, chair of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), said in a statement on Sunday.

READ: Amendments to rice tariff law pushed

According to KMP, the law has led to more than P44 billion in economic losses for rice farmers by clipping the powers of the National Food Authority (NFA) and allowing the private sector to dominate rice production, supply and distribution. The group said this resulted in record-high price inflation of 22.6 percent for rice.

“To address the Marcos government’s epic failure in lowering rice prices, Congress is now turning to RA 11203 amendments, even if they knew that it would do nothing in resolving the rice crisis,” Ramos said.

READ: Romualdez: Rice prices down P15 if rice tariff law amended by June

Inflation rate in Cebu: Your P1 is now worth 83 centavos

WTO commitments

The RA 11203, which liberalized rice importation, exportation and trading and lifted tariffs, itself amended RA 8178, or the agricultural tariffication act of 1996, which was meant to make the country compliant with commitments to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

He said allowing the NFA to sell rice again and funding for the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund are insufficient measures. Instead, KMP urged the rehabilitation of the rice production sector through support programs for production, farm inputs and protection of rice lands and the local industry.

“[President] Marcos has no real and serious intentions of resolving the rice crisis. He is a major contributor to the problem as he allows massive rice importation and the proliferation of corruption within the Department of Agriculture and NFA,” Ramos stated.

The group claims the government protects big traders, importers, smugglers, hoarders and the rice cartel while undermining food self-sufficiency.


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TAGS: economy, farmers, inflation, law, price increase, rice farmers

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