Sulong Dignidad Party-list said the rice tariffication law should “strike a delicate balance” between the interests of consumers who will benefit from cheaper rice and farmers who could be affected by liberalizing rice importation.
This after an official of the National Economic and Development Authority said that imported rice will push prices lower than the NFA’s selling price once imports start arriving in markets.
“Lower rice prices would be greatly appreciated by the consumers. But how about our farmers?” said Sulong Dignidad president and first nominee lawyer Rico Paolo Quicho.
“The government and its economic managers should strike a delicate balance in order to represent the interest of both the consumers and producers,” he added.
Quicho also expressed concern over the effects of rice liberalization to local farmers after the Philippine Institute for Development Studies projected a 29-percent decline in rice farmers’ income upon implementation of the tariffication law.
“There are already projections that our farmers would suffer losses. Our local rice farmers cannot expect to compete against cheaper imports if rice prices suddenly dropped,” he added.
Quicho said that while the new law would establish a Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund, it would be hard for local farmers to compete against rice importers if the Rice Tariffication Act is implemented before local farmers could improve their productivity.
“We urge the president and his economic team to implement rice tariffication gradually to help prepare farmers for the effects of the reform,” Quicho said.
Quicho said Sulong Dignidad will continue to push for cheaper prices of goods and providing subsidies for Filipino farmers to ensure their social and economic inclusion in the growth of the Philippine economy.
“More than rice tariffication, our farmers need government support through land reform, free irrigation, seed and fertilizer subsidies, and crop insurance,” Quicho added.