Revenues from rice tariff should be used to fund a cash assistance program for Filipino households, Senator Risa Hontiveros said yesterday.
“We have an opportunity here to collect and employ these rice import tariffs to provide much-needed cash assistance to millions of Filipino households,” she said.
With P12 billion, for example, the senator said the government could extend assistance to an additional six million families on top of the 4 million families enrolled under the 4Ps program and who are already receiving rice allowances.
“Utilizing rice import tariffs offers a win-win solution for consumers and the agricultural sector,” she said.
“This will not only benefit Filipino families but also promote a sustainable, balanced rice market in the long term,” Hontiveros added.
The senator added that some of the revenues from rice import tariffs and other windfall revenues such as petroleum excise taxes could serve as a valuable resource to reinforce financial assistance programs.
She said each family could receive P2,000, which is equivalent to a P15 reduction for every two kilograms of rice they purchase daily.
“This assistance could be sustained for the next four months, offering considerable relief to struggling families,” she said.
Because of this, Hontiveros said she is objecting to the proposed reduction in rice import tariffs.
Contrary to the Department of Finance’s stance that lower tariffs would guarantee affordable rice for Filipino households, she argued that such a move could prove detrimental to the agricultural sector and, ultimately, to consumers.
Local farmers, she said, depend on fair prices to sustain their livelihoods, especially in the face of recent challenges such as severe flooding and the looming El Nino phenomenon