THE Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI) urged the government to implement a rice tariff of at least 70%, to arrest further imports hitting beyond all-time high records, thus saving Filipino farmers.
PCAFI President Danilo Fausto said that the 70% rice tariff is sanctioned under the Rice Tariffication Law’s (RTL) safeguards provision
Fausto added that the safeguards will also save government from needing to spend huge funds for conditional cash transfer or farmers’ loan, now placed by Department of Agriculture (DA) at P15 billion, just to spare Filipino farmers from serious economic damage.
The private sector, representing thousands of Filipino farmers under its wings in the supply chain, has pegged desired rice tariff to at least 70% in order to beef up global competitiveness of Filipino produce.
Fausto, however, clarified that they strongly support the RTL, contrary to what may be perceived by some groups.
“We are supporting the law. Therefore let’s implement the law. We want the law, that’s why we want it implemented,” Fausto stressed.
The PCAFI warned the continuous influx of cheap imported rice may threaten the country’s national security, prompting hungry farmers in the rural areas to resort to joining communist rebels.
“We have to assess the situation because any further damage may affect our national security,” Fausto added.
Fausto said the PCAFI wants RTL upheld through immediate implementation of its explicit provisions.
“We’re not asking for a repeal of the law or an amendment of the law. And if the law says, section 10 of Republic Act has safeguards, let’s implement it.”
A tariff rate of at least 70 percent should be reasonable enough to give the Filipino farmers at least the “temporary” yet extra edge against imports.
“Our palay price is now at around P12 per kilo. But NFA should buy it at P17 (to aid farmers). At that buying price, it will sell in the retail market at P34 per kilo, when milled. Then domestic rice will even out with the imported at P34,” said Fausto.