At least 50 solons want P15-B supplemental fund to buy local palay
MANILA, Philippines — More than 50 members of the House of Representatives are seeking a P15-billion supplemental budget for the procurement of 750,000 metric tons of palay from local farmers amid the dire impacts of the Rice Liberalization Law.
The lawmakers led by the Makabayan bloc on Thursday filed House Joint Resolution No. 18, which seeks an additional P15-billion fund for the National Food Authority (NFA).
The joint resolution also directs NFA to exclusively use the amount to urgently procure local palay at a farm-gate price of P20 per kilogram and sell NFA rice to consumers at P27 per kilo.
A joint resolution requires the approval of both chambers of Congress and, once signed by the President, becomes a law.
According to the resolution, NFA can only purchase 350,000 metric tons or 7 million sacks of palay from local farmers at P20 per kilo farm gate price through its current P7-billion 2019 budget for buffer stocking.
“The country is once again entering the harvest season of the lean second cropping. The NFA must be refueled with adequate funds so that it can procure a substantial portion from the coming harvest,” the lawmakers added.
Earlier, Liberal Party House members also filed a joint resolution authorizing the use of the P13 billion unappropriated Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund and tariffs collected under the new law that liberalized the importation of rice in the country.
Republic Act No. 11203, Rice Tariffication Law, signed February this year replaces quantitative restrictions on imported rice with tariffs or taxes. The law has been blamed for the influx of imported rice in the country that triggers local rice prices to plummet. Both the Senate and House have launched inquiries into this issue.
Magsasaka Rep. Argel Cabatbat, meanwhile, filed House Resolution No. 332 which seeks an inquiry into the alleged increasing number of rice cartels and rice smuggling in the country. He said these illegal acts “further aggravate the decades-old suffering of ordinary Filipino farmers.”
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