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Monday, June 17, 2024

DA backs House move on rice tariffication law

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The proposal to restore the National Food Authority’s (NFA’s) mandate to purchase and sell rice at affordable prices is supported by the Department of Agriculture (DA).

House Speaker Martin Romualdez on Tuesday said that the House of Representatives will pass a bill amending the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL), which would allow NFA to buy and sell rice at lower prices. Romualdez gave the statement shortly after the first hearing on proposed bills amending the RTL were deliberated before the House agriculture and food panel.

The DA Assistant Secretary Arnel de Mesa remarked in an interview on Super Radyo dzBB that their support of the proposal comes in the heels of the government’s lack of response to situations when the price of rice gets really high.

The DA’s latest data shows that local regular milled rice now costs P50 per kilo, and P48 to P55 per kilo for local well-milled rice.

On the other hand, regular milled imported commercial rice costs P48 to P51 per kilo, while regular-milled at P51 to P54.

“These amendments to RTL—we are pounding on this because the President [Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr.] told us that we have to find ways on how to bring down rice prices,” Romualdez told reporters in an interview.

Even if Romualdez’s plans push through, de Mesa stressed that the NFA should not think of selling rice at bargain-basement prices. If the current price is P50 per kilo, the DA officials said the NFA should price it at around P40 per kilo.

He added that “The selling price should not be too low, like around P25 per kilo because the NFA will lose too much. That is also one of the reasons why the RTL was passed because the NFA incurred too much loss.”

Even with unlimited entry of imported rice because of the RTL, a law which will supposedly bring down the price of rice in the market due to increased supply, apparently, the plan hardly worked. The cost of rice continued to spike within the six years since the law was enacted.

Even as the same law bans the NFA from purchasing and selling rice, restricting its mandate to manage buffer rice stocks, the latest government data seems to show otherwise: the rice inflation rate still rose to up to 24.4% in March when matched with 23.7% in February.

De Mesa said that having a kilo of rice at P25 will depend on the possibility of decreasing the cost to produce the staple.

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