Use tariff collections as cash aid, Hontiveros urges government
MANILA, Philippines — “Don’t lower the tariffs. Instead, let’s work towards a solution that benefits both consumers and our hard-working farmers.”
In a statement, Hontiveros pointed out that reducing import tariffs on rice could be “detrimental” to the agricultural sector and consumers alike, especially during El Nino.
She suggested instead that the government should use tariff revenues it as a “one-time cash assistance” to low-income and lower-middle-class families.
“We have an opportunity here to collect and employ these rice import tariffs to provide much-needed cash assistance to millions of Filipino households. With P12 billion, for example, we could extend assistance to an additional six million families on top of the four million 4Ps families already receiving rice allowances,” Hontiveros said.
On the other hand, Sen. Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Food, and Agrarian Reform, thinks otherwise.
In a press conference held Monday, Villar told reporters, speaking in a mix of English and Filipino: “The rice competitiveness enhancement fund will enable us to make our rice farmers competitive. Financial aid is not developmental. You cannot remove that [enhancement fund] because you will lose the developmental aspect. We can’t just always provide aid. We should teach our farmers how to be competitive so that in the future they can compete with other countries.”
According to Villar, one way for the Philippines to attain rice self-sufficiency is by simply increasing the productivity of rice farmers from 3.7 to 6 metric tons per hectare.