DBM wants swift OK of bill on rice tariffication amid inflation, rice crisis
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on Thursday urged the Senate to pass the Rice Tariffication Bill within the month amid the increasing prices of commodities and to address the developing rice crisis in some areas in Mindanao.
“A shift from quantitative restrictions on rice in favor of tariffication will reduce its retail price by 4 to 7 pesos,“ said Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said in a statement.
The House of Representatives approved on third and final reading last month the House Bill 7735 or the “Revised Agricultural Tariffication Act.”
The Senate version of the measure remains pending before the agriculture and food committee.
President Rodrigo Duterte, in his third State of the Nation Address, certified as urgent the rice tariffication bill to ensure its swift passage in Congress.
He said the country must switch from the current quota system in importing rice to a tariff system where rice can be imported more freely.
Data released by Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) on Wednesday showed inflation clocked in at 6.4 percent in August, the fastest in over nine years since inflation came in at 6.6 percent in March 2009.
To curb the rice shortage in Zambasulta area, the government announced that it will immediately release 4.6 million sacks of rice in National Food Authority (NFA) warehouses to markets all over the country while also allocating 2.7 million sacks to Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.
The DBM added that 2 million sacks of rice previously contracted to be delivered is also expected to arrive before the end of September.
In addition, the NFA Council authorized the importation of 5.0 million sacks of rice that will be arriving over the next six weeks. Another 5.0 million sacks will be imported early next year. /je
(Editor’s note: Corrected on Sept. 6, 2018 at 4:55 p.m. to show that the House of Representatives had approved on the third and final reading the Revised Agricultural Tariffication Act.)
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.