A SENATOR on Monday asked the Agriculture department to reassess the Rice Tariffication Law for possible amendments during the incoming Congress and to improve implementation, citing complaints from local growers.
“It is in the public interest that the DA (Department of Agriculture) take initiative in looking into these reported consequences and adverse effects of the law in order to identify possible amendments and revisions to the same,” Senator Manuel “Lito” M. Lapid said in a letter to outgoing Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar.
President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. has announced that he will be assuming the DA top post when he starts his six-year term on June 30, citing the urgency of addressing problems in the sector.
Mr. Lapid said a review of the law should also be intended “to enact rules and regulations to improve its implementation, and to further strengthen the safety nets provided to our farmers and farm workers.”
Republic Act 11203, which lifted volume restriction and imposed a 35% tariff on rice imports, was signed into law in Feb. 2019. It was enacted to comply with the country’s obligation to the World Trade Organization and ensure availability of cheaper rice in the market.
Mr. Lapid pointed out that “while the law’s objectives were undeniably laudable, it appears that it fell short of its promised benefits to the consumers, the economy, and, most importantly, the farmers and the domestic agricultural industry.”
The senator, citing the Federation of Free Farmers, said the supposed assistance to local growers to reduce production cost, increase yields, and boost productivity through an annual P10-billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund did not prove to be effective. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan