Speaker Romualdez lauds Sec. Recto for honoring agreement to ease rice tariffs

May 29, 2024 People's Journal 98 views

SPEAKER Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez on Wednesday expressed his gratitude to Finance Sec. Ralph Recto for fulfilling their agreement to reduce rice tariffs, a move intended to lower the price of rice to below P50 per kilo.

Speaker Romualdez commended Recto for advancing their earlier agreement between House leaders and the secretaries of finance and agriculture.

This initiative aims to address the rising rice prices driven by unscrupulous traders, the impacts of El Niño, and high global costs, he said.

Last week, Speaker Romualdez met with Recto, Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel, Jr., Customs Commissioner Bienvenido Rubio, and House Appropriations Committee Chair Zaldy Co of Ako Bicol Partylist to craft practical solutions to mitigate the financial strain on consumers while securing fair compensation for local rice farmers.

The House leader said the group looked at temporary reduction in rice tariffs to lower traders’ costs.

He said this is expected to help make rice more affordable without undermining local farmers’ livelihood.

Despite the planned tariff reduction, Speaker Romualdez said farmers will continue to receive support from the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), funded by taxes collected under Republic Act 11203 (Rice Tariffication Law).

As of April, DOF data indicate that rice tariff collections has already reached P16-billion – enough to cover the P10-billion minimum requirement to assist farmers under RCEF.

Additionally, the Speaker called for stricter price controls in the retail market to prevent price manipulation and protect consumers.

He also joined Laurel’s suggestion to bring low-priced fresh fish, chicken and other agricultural produce to the market, particularly in Kadiwa centers.

“Our goal is to lower food prices while protecting local farmers and producers. We hope to do this by increasing local procurement and adjusting import tariffs,” Speaker Romualdez said.

The Speaker also called for “a whole of nation approach” in solving the rice crisis.

Speaker Romualdez said this requires the cooperation of relevant government agencies, market players and local producers.

“DA should talk to traders to avoid hoarding and price manipulation,” he stressed.

The Speaker said the House of Representatives is fully committed to supporting President Marcos’ goal of significantly reducing rice prices.

The commitment includes addressing market challenges through collaborative efforts and strategic interventions, ensuring that every Filipino has access to quality but affordable rice.