The Senate Committee on Agriculture approved a joint resolution seeking the use of the extra collection of the Bureau of Customs (BoC) from the Rice Tariffication Law (RTC) for rice farmers’ cash assistance.
With strong support from the Department of Agriculture (DA), the panel approved Senate Joint Resolution 12 under 30 minutes.
The resolution authorizes the implementation of RTL’s provisions which state that the excess amount from the P10-billion annual tariff revenues collected by the BoC from rice importation will be distributed as cash assistance to the farmers.
From January to September 2020, the BoC reported P13.682 billion despite lower rice importations in the same period last year, Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Cynthia Villar informed the panel.
Once the resolution is approved, the excess collections will be transferred to the DA for Rice Farmer Financial Assistance and this will be directly distributed to farmers with one hectare and below based on the list in the Registry System for Basic Sector.
Senators urged the DA to distribute cash aids by December before the Christmas season.
During the panel hearing, senators also urged the DA officials to limit the issuance of importation permits from the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) as the price of palay dips.
“Why do we need to import while we have a huge supply of rice. That is my question to BPI…. Control BPI from farming out import permits while the price of palay had weakened,” Villar told DA Secretary William Dar.
Her sentiment was backed by Senator Imee Marcos.
For his part, Dar said the BPI has already halted the issuance of importation permits.
Currently, the dry and clean palay with 14 percent moisture content’s gate price is at P19 pesos, Dar told the panel.
As the Philippines experiences wet season, Dar said the wet palay price is at P14 to 15 due to the lack of post-harvest facilities.
Villar urged the DA officials to provide post-harvest facilities and drying equipment to increase the price of locally-produced palay.
Furthermore, Senator Kiko Pangilinan manifested the factor of technical smuggling in the low price of dry palay.
This was not refuted by the DA secretary saying he has no idea how to address this problem.
Pangilinan pointed out that one of the reasons behind rice smuggling is the low landed cost of rice in the country.
According to Dar, the landed cost of rice from Thailand and Vietnam is at P20.
In Senate’s hearing on DA’s proposed 2021 budget, senators pointed out that until now there are no big-time smugglers whether for rice, corn, or poultry that are being prosecuted.
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