By GENALYN KABILING
Malacanang is optimistic that once enacted into law, the rice tariffication bill will help ensure stable supply, lower prices, and fight the cartel in the rice industry.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo issued the statement after thanking the Senate for passing the administration bill seeking replace the import restrictions on rice with a tariff system.
“The Palace expresses its gratitude to the Senate for passing on third and final reading the Rice Tariffication Bill,” Panelo said in a statement.
“The President has certified the aforesaid bill as urgent. In his communication with the leadership of the Senate, the President expressed the urgent need to improve the availability of rice in the country to prevent artificial rice shortage, reduce the prices of rice in the market, and curtail the prevalence of corruption and cartel domination in the rice industry,” he added.
The Senate has approved Senate Bill No. 1998 or an An Act Replacing The Quantitative Import Restrictions On Rice With Tariffs, Lifting The Quantitative Export Restrictions On Rice, And Creating The Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund.
Under the measure, a 35 percent duty will be imposed on rice imports from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) while a 50 percent tariff will be charged on imports from non-ASEAN countries. The same bill also seeks to establish the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund to help farmers boost their production.
The House of Representatives approved its version of the bill easing rice importation last August.
“We remain optimistic that the bill would also run smoothly during the bicameral conference committee deliberations by both Houses of Congress,” Panelo said.
“We are likewise confident that through the enactment of this bill into law, we would be able to protect the rice industry from sudden price fluctuations and eventually ease the burden of the Filipino consumers from soaring prices,” he added.