Senator Cynthia Villar said the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund does not need any additional budget allocated from the COVID 19 prevention as it has a P10B budget per year annually from the national budget for the next 6 years.
Villar, chairperson of the Senate agriculture committee, said the budget being asked by the Department of Agriculture is not for RCEF but for their other programs.
Aside from the RCEF, she said the DA has a separate National Rice Program with a P7 billion yearly budget allocated to buy fertilizer and hybrid seeds.
The Rice Tariffication Law or Republic Act 11203 which took effect March 2019. It created the RCEF which guarantees a P10 billion allocation annually or higher to be taken from tariff collected by the Bureau of Customs.
The law provides that for the years 2019 to 2024, a P10 billion fund shall be allocated as follows: P5 billion or 50 percent, for the procurement of rice farm equipment—tillers, tractors, threshers, milling, transplanters, harvesters, irrigation pumps, and drying facilities that will be given to 947 or so rice-producing towns in the country to be implemented by PhilMech; P3 billion or 30 percent, will be allotted for the development, promotion, distribution and production of inbred seeds by PhilRice; P1 billion or 10 percent will go to cheap credit with two-percent interest per year to be implemented by LandBank and the Development Bank of the Philippines; and 10 percent or P1 billion is for training programs.
Under the law, the RCEF will initiate the programs aimed at helping local rice farmers compete by bringing down the cost of producing rice from the present P12 per kg to P7 per kg. This cheaper supply of rice from our own rice farmer helps lower rice prices for Filipino consumers.
The law focuses on rice farmers, cooperatives, and associations. It also allocated tariff revenues in excess of Php10 billion to the Rice Farmer Financial Assistance program to compensate rice farmers who will lose income as a result of the measure.
A portion of the excess tariff will be allocated to titling rice lands, expanded crop insurance, and crop diversification program.