Tariff on imported rice among Ledac priority bills
The Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (Ledac) executive committee is pushing for a tariff on imported rice as well as comprehensive tax reform among the priority measures that Congress must act on once it resumes session next week.
In a statement on Sunday, the state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said the Ledac committee wanted the proposed amendment to Republic Act (RA) No. 8178, or the Agricultural Tariffication Act of 1996, to be approved or certified by President Duterte as urgent.
RA 8178 put in place the rice import quota, or quantitative restriction (QR).
Along with the first package of the Duterte administration’s comprehensive tax reform program and 12 other measures, the Ledac committee wanted the tax on rice “passed into law possibly within the year,” said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia.
“We need rice tariffication because the import QR allowed by the World Trade Organization (WTO) has already ended. This is to prevent uncertainty as to what the demands of the WTO members will be following the lapse of the QR,” said Pernia, who also chairs the Ledac executive committee.
“Earnings from the proposed law [amendment to RA 8178] will also be used to improve the productivity of farmers and the agriculture sector as specified in the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, which aims to expand economic opportunities in agriculture,” Pernia said.
In May, Mr. Duterte certified as urgent the passage of the first tax reform package aimed at slashing personal income tax rates while slapping new or higher taxes on consumption, Neda noted.
House Bill No. 5636 was approved by the House of Representatives before Congress went on sine die adjournment.
Besides imposing a tax on imported rice and tax reform, Neda identified the 12 other bills to be endorsed by the Ledac executive committee as urgent:
• Amendments to the Anti-Cybercrime Act
• Amendments to the National Irrigation Administration Charter
• Amendments to the Public Service Act
• Budget Reform Act
• Ease of Doing Business Act/Fast Business Permit Act
• Government Procurement Reform Act Amendments
• National Land Use Act
• National Transport Act
• Rightsizing of the national government
• Security of tenure bill
• Unified National Identification System Act
• Utilization of the coconut levy fund.
—Ben O. de Vera
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.