CAMARINES Sur Rep. Luis Ray Villafuerte is urging the Senate to quickly approve the rice tariffication bill to stabilize the retail prices of rice and ease the galloping inflation.
He said President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of the import liberalization bill as an urgent measure should prod the Senate to act on it with dispatch as soon as Congress resumed session on Nov. 12.
“The prompt approval of the rice tariffication bill is the fastest way for both chambers of Congress to help President Duterte tame inflation and ease its impact on consumers, most especially this coming holiday season given that food expenses account for 9.7 percent of the consumer price index,” Villafuerte said.
He said the measure’s swift passage would go a long way toward boosting rice production, a long-term approach to stabilizing the supply and price of the staple.
Under the bill, import tariffs are to go to the rice competitiveness enhancement fund, which the
Agriculture department would use to provide for easy-to-access loans to farmers for production, inputs for fertilizers, post-harvest facilities and research and development.
Villafuerte is the co-author of the House of Representatives’ version of the rice tariffication bill that was approved in August.
In certifying the rice tariffication bill as urgent, Duterte cited the “urgent need to improve the availability of rice, prevent artificial rice shortages, reduce the prices of rice, and curtail the prevalence of corruption and cartel domination in the rice industry.
The rice tariffication bill would be a “win-win” situation for consumers and farmers amid the high inflation, Villafuerte said.
Consumers would benefit from the bill as the lifting of the quantitative restriction on rice imports would reduce the inflation rate by .07 percentage point, the central bank says.
“Lower prices would benefit farmers too as they are also rice consumers,” Villafuerte said.