Lee

AMENDING RTL ONLY A START, CLEANSING OF NFA CRUCIAL TO BRINGING DOWN PRICE OF RICE – LEE

May 9, 2024 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 194 views

AGRI Party-list Rep. Wilbert T. Lee has lauded the approval of the proposed amendments to Republic Act No. 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) by the House Committee on Agriculture and Food, but also reiterated the need to purge corrupt officials in the National Food Authority (NFA) to lower the price of rice.

Lee, who earlier filed House Resolution No. 1636 to review and assess the impact of RTL said, “Natutuwa tayo na aprubado na ng Komite ang isinulong nating pag-amyenda sa RTL, para mas mapalawak pa ang mga benepisyo nito, at matuldukan ang mga nagpabigat lang sa pasanin ng ating local food producers at consumers.”

“Pangunahin sa layunin natin na maibalik ang mandato ng NFA na pagbili ng palay sa mga lokal na magsasaka sa presyong sigurado ang kanilang kita, at pagbebenta nito sa merkado sa halagang hindi mabigat sa bulsa ng consumers. Maiiwasan din dito ang mga mapagsamantalang middleman at traders, na binabarat ang mga magsasaka at nagpapatong pa ng malaking halaga sa presyo ng bigas,” Lee pointed out.

“Sa pamamagitan nito, bukod sa tataas ang kita ng mga magsasaka, gaganahan din silang pataasin ang kanilang produksyon, na eventually, magpapamura sa bigas at hahatak pababa sa overall inflation,” the solon added.

According to the Bicolano lawmaker, restoring the NFA power to sell cheaper rice in the market would significantly drive down the retail prices of the staple food to as low as P37 per kilo.

“Pero para mangyari ito, dapat may tapat at maaasahan tayong liderato ng NFA na babaston sa ahensya, para hindi na ito pamugaran ng anomalya. Tungkulin ng NFA na tulungan ang mga magsasaka at consumers, hindi maging kasosyo ng mga traders,” Lee stressed.

“Bukod dito, dapat ding maging seryoso ang mga ahensya ng gobyerno para sugpuin at may masampolan na sa agri smuggling na pumapatay sa kabuhayan ng ating local food producers,” he added.

As to the increasing the budget allocation for farm machinery and equipment to be sourced from the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), Lee reiterated that this would greatly help more farmers and fisherfolk if the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) continue to commit in simplifying and streamlining its requirements to avail of these machineries that he persistently pushed for.

“Gaano man po kaganda ang isang batas, kung pupugak-pugak naman ang implementasyon at pahirapang matanggap ang serbisyong dapat ihatid nito, eh wala rin itong silbi. Our local food producers and consumers deserve better, so we must demand for better services and implementation of our laws to help them improved their plight,” Lee said.

“Hindi na puwede ang puwede na. Gumagawa at nagpapatupad tayo ng mga polisiya at batas para maging Winner Tayo Lahat. Ang dapat na tutok natin: dagdag na trabaho, dagdag na kita, sapat at murang pagkain at maaasahang serbisyong pangkalusugan para sa lahat para mabawasan ang pangamba ng bawat pamilya na lalong malubog sa kahirapan, ” he added.

The RTL was signed into law in 2019 supposedly to reduce the price of rice and help farmers who would be hurt by the removal of quantitative restrictions – or a ceiling on the volume – on imported rice. The quantitative restrictions were replaced by tariffs of 35% to 40%.

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