July 30, 2019
THE government has collected as of mid-July more than P6 billion in duties from rice imported by private traders since Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Act took effect in March, the Department of Finance (DoF) reported on Monday.
In a statement, the Finance department quoted the Bureau of Customs (BoC) as saying in a report to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd that preliminary data showed that it had collected P6.479 billion from importer-traders as of July 15.
With the tax collected to date, the DoF is optmitistic that the Customs bureau “remains on course to collect the minimum of P10 billion needed for the RCEF per year,” referring to the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund.
RA 11203 set up the RCEF to finance the modernization of the agriculture sector, and provide farmers with access to credit and training, as well as funds for mechanization, high-quality seeds and fertilizers, among others.
The Finance department said BoC collections from these imports since the enactment of the law would benefit palay (unhusked rice) growers, as such revenues were earmarked for the annual P10-billion RCEF.
Section 13 (c) of RA 11203 says 10 percent of the RCEF shall be made available as credit facility, with minimal interest rates and with minimum collateral requirements to rice farmers and cooperatives.
The rest of the fund would be set aside for farm machinery and equipment; rice seed development, propagation and promotion; and rice extension services, as provided under the Rice Tariffication Act.
On top of paying tariffs, rice importers are required to secure sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances from the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Plant Industry, which assumed the food-safety regulation function of the National Food Authority under the law.
“This requirement will ensure that rice imports are free from pests and diseases that could affect public health and local farm production,” the DoF said.
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