MINERVA BC NEWMAN
CEBU CITY – The Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) through its president Felix Taguiam has manifested its support to the continued implementation of Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) that was passed to remedy the rice shortages in 2018 by removing the rice import quotas and allowing foreign rice to enter the local market.
The RTL has removed the government’s obligation and rice traders to buy rice from the local farmers that benefited over 100 million Filipino consumers by way of cheaper rice, the CCCI manifesto said.
Taguiam noted that according to the Department of Finance (DOF), consumers gained around Php 21 billion from lower rice retail prices following the RTL’s enactment. Aside from cheaper rice prices the consumers gained another Php 42 billion due to lower overall inflation.
The manifesto also acknowledged that almost three million farmers were affected in the immediate term and the RTL has created Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) which allocates the law’s revenue annually for six years to programs for mass irrigation, rice storage, farm machineries, credit and technical extension, and research initiatives.
CCCI bared that the law generated over P10 billion per year by way of the 35 percent tariff on imported rice which is meant to help the Filipino rice farmers. “The way forward is to help our farmers increase their harvest at lower cost of production as this will improve their profitability and competitiveness,” CCCI added.
The CCCI also called on the government to go after the excessive profiteering in the market by traders and cartels through the strict enforcement of the imposed Suggested Retail Prices (SRPs) and for the local price council to strictly monitor the price movements of rice.
The competition that the RTL brings should naturally bring down the price of rice, if only market intermediaries do not manipulate it, the manifesto aadded.
“As we begin our recovery as a nation from the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for game-changing legislations that brings structural reforms and productivity enhancing measures, is imperative not only for businesses to carve its niche again but also to make the country an attractive investment destination,” the manifesto concluded.