The Philippine business community supported the efforts of Agriculture Secretary William Dar to effectively implement the Rice Tariffication Law to protect palay farmers and preserve the gains of the legislation.
The law created the Rice Competitive Enhancement Fund to assist rice farmers and enhance their productivity and competitiveness through seed, mechanization, credit, and extension services.
“We urge the proper implementation of the RTL to ensure that the temporary adjustment problems experienced by our rice sector will be mitigated. And we are sure that out from the birth pains, a new, vibrant and modern Philippine agriculture sector will emerge,” the groups said.
The Philippines business community is comprised of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines, Bankers Association of the Philippines, Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, Foundation for Economic Freedom, Makati Business Club and the Management Association of the Philippines.
The groups said the law was starting to achieve most of the original objectives of the law.
“Nothing has changed our mind regarding the desirability of pursuing the RTL to the fullest to assist in modernizing the Philippine agricultural sector. To reverse it now will be tantamount to consigning our agriculture to under-development and our farm families to continuing child malnutrition,” the groups said in a statement.
The rice tariffication law has initially resulted in the falling price of palay that increased pressure to reverse or repeal it.
“This trend was not surprising and was in fact anticipated by our economic managers. As such, they recommended a number of measures that will mitigate the temporary adverse effects of the RTL,” said the business community.
Interventions should be complementary and supplementary to the “National Rice Industry Roadmap” being formulated to guide RCEF assistance and ensure that investment would yield maximum returns, the groups noted.
The groups said RCEF would also encourage marginal rice farmers to diversify to add value to their produce and obtain higher income.
The law signed on February 14, 2019 ended the more than 30-year policy of quantitative restrictions on rice import in favor of the shift to tariff as the main instrument in protecting palay farmers.
The measure favors tariff as a trade instrument because it is more transparent compared with government-to-government transactions, allowing anybody to import rice at 35 percent tariff.