Recto: Senate wants 100% rice tariffication profit ‘plowed back’ to farmers
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Wednesday said all profits that might be generated from the proposed rice tariffication bill must be “plowed back” to farmers through assistance, equipment, credit, insurance, among others.
According to Recto, rice tariffication “is not a revenue measure” cautioning “some quarters in the government” who were playing with the idea of using rice tariffication to “shore up the government’s fiscal position.”
He said the Senate’s position “is that government should not profit from rice tariffication.”
“By stipulating in the bill that 100 percent of duties will be plowed back to farmers, we are sending a strong message to those who might be tempted to use it to primarily raise taxes that their idea is dead in the water,” Recto said in a statement.
Recto said there was a proposal from an agency in the government’s economic cluster to limit to P10 billion a year the plowback to farmers “even if duties collected from imported rice are double or triple that amount.”
The senator also revealed that the Senate rejected a proposal that annual funding for the Rice Competitive Enhancement Fund (RCEF) sourced from rice duties must be capped at P10 billion, and excess collection should be utilized as national income.
“Unfair naman ‘yan. Kung halimbawa P25 billion ang collection, ibig sabihin mas malaki pa ang share ng pamahalaan kaysa sa mga magsasakang maapektuhan? Farmers get the pain and government gets the gain?” Recto pointed out.
Last Tuesday evening, the Senate agreed on setting the RCEF at a minimum of P10 billion a year for six years and tariff revenues in excess of P10 billion will be appropriated by Congress based on “a menu of programs in the rice tarrification law.”
This way, Recto said there will be “a 100-percent plowback rate.”
“Everything will be returned to the farmers. They will get all the dividends to compensate for their losses, which I think will never be enough,” he said. /kga
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