Reconsider rice tariffication bill
Senate Bill No. 1998, also known as the rice tariffication bill, filed by Sen. Cynthia Villar, seeks to stop the National Food Authority (NFA) from selling good quality rice at the low price of P27/kilogram.
This bill would abolish, among others, the licensing or regulatory power of NFA and limit the purpose of buffer stocking solely for emergencies/calamities.
If the bill becomes law, NFA would be rendered inutile and eventually abolished.
Under the proposed law, not only would NFA rice vanish in the market but also darak, binlid and other palay by-products, with dire consequences for poultry and hog raisers.
With the unimpeded entry of imported rice, consumers would temporarily enjoy lower rice prices, but how about the farmers who would be greatly affected?
Is the loan facility created out of the tariff collection enough to protect the farmers from financial losses?
How about the gains the country has already achieved in its quest for rice self-suffiency?
I have been a rice retailer for almost three decades now, and I know how millions of poor Filipinos rely on NFA rice. As it is, rice is considered a political commodity since it is closely tied up with food security issues.
As an agricultural country, our adoption of every possible protectionist policy should never be abandoned, to shield the country from global price volatility.
We appeal to President Duterte to review and revisit the anticonsumer and antifarmer provisions of SB 1998, and carefully consider the issues presented that have been ignored by its authors.
RAHIM S. SATOL President, Cotabato City Chapter, Grains Retailers Confederation
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.