Gov’t eyeing other options besides rice price cap amid rising costs
MANILA, Philippines — The government is considering options other than a price ceiling to tackle high rice prices, said National Economic Development Authority (Neda) Arsenio Balisacan on Thursday.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the concurrent Agriculture secretary, had issued a price cap on rice amid soaring prices.
In a Palace briefing, Balisacan said that the price cap will be suspended once the government reaches its goal. The Neda chief, however, did not say when the price cap would be lifted.
When asked if the government is far from the goal, Balisacan said: “No, that’s why we will meet soon to recommend other options. There are, as I said earlier, there are options; for example, we have made mention about reducing the tariff while world prices are rising.”
Balisacan said that reducing tariffs on imports could cushion the blow of rice prices.
“The issue is basically that world prices of rice are rising and have risen quite sharply in recent months and so the question is, do we allow those high prices to be reflected in our local markets? Particularly for our consumers? What do we need to do to ensure that we can protect our consumers? That we can still be rice secure even as world prices are rising. So there are options to achieve that objective,” said Balisacan.
Balisacan said that when reducing tariffs, the protection of farmers must be ensured. He added that the only one who should suffer the brunt of the rice price issue is the government.
“Nobody should be worst off. The only worst off here will be the government because there will be less revenue from the tariffs ‘no. But you know, what are a few billions of losses compared to greater suffering of our population from high prices? We don’t want that,” he said.