THE lowering of rice import tariffs contemplated in Executive Order (EO) No. 135 is expected to have an adverse impact on rice farmers, a legislator said.
Senator Francis N. Pangilinan said in a television interview Tuesday that the tariff reduction should only be resorted to during periods of shortage and high prices, which he said was not the case.
He said the Department of Agriculture has declared that there is no shortage of rice on the market.
“We are not experiencing shortages. Who will benefit from this move? It will be importers,” Mr. Pangilinan said.
On May 15, President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed EO 135, which cut tariffs on rice imports, both within the minimum access volume quota and beyond it, to 35% for one year, bringing rice from all sources at parity with the rate paid by ASEAN grain.
Before the EO was issued, rice imports from non-ASEAN sources within the quota paid 40%, while those beyond the quota were charged 50%.
Mr. Pangilinan also noted that inflation in rice prices in April was minus 0.3%, reflecting ample supply.
He added that lower rice tariffs will also put a dent in government revenue.
“What we are preparing to do is file a joint resolution to withdraw the reduction of the tariff (of rice). Whether we will get support or not is another question altogether,” he added. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave