The National Economic and Development Authority on Tuesday renewed its call to Congress to pass the Rice Tariffication bill, saying it will help temper inflation and improve the agriculture sector.
President Rodrigo Duterte, in his third State-of-the-Nation Address Monday, also asked Congress to consider as urgent the passage of the law amending Republic Act No. 8178, also known as the Agricultural Tariffication Act of 1996, to stabilize rice prices and address the artificial shortage.
The president gave a stern warning against “rice hoarders, cartels and their protectors” who were manipulating the prices of rice to their advantage and to the detriment of the Filipino people.
“There is no time to waste. All of us must rally behind the administration’s reform agenda, most especially the Rice Tarrification bill, which if implemented will make our agriculture sector competitive in the long-term,” Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said in a statement.
Pernia said once the rice tariffication bill, filed before the 17th Congress, was signed into law and fully implemented, the prices of rice would likely go down.
A preliminary estimate by Neda showed that headline inflation rate would be reduced by one percentage point if the domestic wholesale rice market reduced its price to the level of the imported rice.
Pernia also lauded President Duterte’s speech, which brought attention to some of the Philippines’ development agenda expressly laid out in the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, the country’s socioeconomic development blueprint.
Among these are the Ease of Doing Business Law, the bill establishing the Coconut Farmers’ Trust Fund, the National Land Use Act, the comprehensive tax reform and the aim for a universal healthcare system.
The Ease of Doing Business Law or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act (Republic Act No. 11032), which seeks to enhance market competitiveness in the Philippines, was signed into law by President Duterte on May 28, 2018. Julito G. Rada
The creation of the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund is expected to benefit coconut farmers and farm workers, Pernia said.
Pernia also cited the need for the passage of the National Land Use Act, which had been languishing in Congress for two decades.
The proposed bill aims to protect prime agricultural lands, provide rationalized land use planning in the country, consolidate national laws on land uses and address long-standing land use conflicts.
“We all share the President’s desire to protect the present and future generations. With the passage of NALUA, we ensure the sustainable use of the country’s land and physical resources,” Pernia said.