Defer rice imports, Imee urges gov’t
Sen. Imee R. Marcos, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs, has urged the government to defer rice importation until after the peak of the wet season harvest in October, to enable farmers to recover from farmgate prices being kept low by rice traders.
Marcos warned that farmgate prices of palay might again plunge from the present P12 to P15 per kilo to P7 to P8, as it did last year when rice imports caused an oversupply and dragged down prices.“Importation does not mean the end of all regulation,” Imee said.
“Scheduling importation is one way of helping our local rice farmers while the rice tariffication law remains in place,” she added.Marcos urged the Bureau of Customs to “go a step further” after it exposed rice traders who misdeclared and undervalued their imports last year by more than P1 billion.
“Beyond collecting deficient payments on import duties and taxes, cancel the permits of this brazen cartel of importers and reshuffle or remove Customs officials who allowed this to happen,” she said.Marcos added that tariff collections must be protected to augment the budget of the Department of Agriculture (DA) budget which faces a deep cut for next year, limiting the ability to procure more rice from local farmers and provide them more drying machines, tube wells, higher-yielding hybrid seeds, and fertilizer.
Local rice farmers remain on edge, as neighboring countries resume exports after a brief lull during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Marcos said. Read more: Manila Bulletin News »
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