With Duterte directive, anyone can import rice
Anyone may now import rice at any quantity.
President Duterte has issued the directive to fully liberalize rice importation to rein in inflation after he was informed that rising prices of the staple caused inflation to surge to a fresh nine-year high.
“He wants to flood the market with rice that even if the price of oil should further go up, the people will have access to affordable rice,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said on Tuesday.
Roque said an executive order was not needed to liberalize rice importation.
“With the President’s directive, the National Food Authority (NFA) no longer has any say on how much rice should be imported,” he said. “Anyone who can afford it and will pay tariffs will be allowed to import rice.”
Roque said the tariffs would be used to help local farmers.
‘Animated’ Cabinet meet
The “hot” issue of inflation, he said, was the subject of an “animated” discussion in the Cabinet meeting on Monday night.
The President, according to Roque, eventually approved the “unimpeded importation of rice” to reduce inflation.
His decision came after Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III made a presentation to the Cabinet showing that high rice prices were primarily responsible for the high inflation in September.
Using graphs, Dominguez showed that aside from tobacco, oil and nonfood items, rice was the most important commodity, whose price increase led to the spike in inflation.
Last month’s inflation rose to 6.7 percent, angering the public more as they continue to grapple with a series of fuel price increases, which rose for the ninth time in as many weeks on Tuesday.
Roque said the Palace expected big companies such as San Miguel Corp. would now be able to import rice. The company, he noted, was mentioned at the Cabinet meeting.
San Miguel has made known its intention to import rice to help beef up current stocks in the country after the NFA reserve supply was almost depleted. The low NFA buffer has led to skyrocketing rice prices.
“This increased supply of rice will result in overall lowering of the price of rice,” Roque said.
He also said it was now a free market for rice.
No one will be required to get an accreditation to import although getting an import permit will still be a requirement.
“But no one will have to approve the importation anymore. They just need to comply with the documentary requirements,” Roque said.
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