Marcos rejects tariff reduction on rice

Cecille Suerte Felipe, Alexis Romero – The Philippine Star

September 27, 2023 | 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — President Marcos rejected yesterday a proposal to temporarily cut the tariff on imported rice to lower the prices of the food staple, citing projections that global prices would decrease.

Marcos, also the agriculture secretary, made the remark after a sectoral meeting at Malacañang that tackled the proposed rice tariff reduction.

“We decided with the agriculture and economic managers that … it was not the right time to lower the tariff rates because the projection of world rice prices is that it will go down,” a Palace statement quoted the President as saying.

“So this is not the right time to lower tariffs. Tariffs are generally lowered when the price is going up,” he added.

Presidential Communications Secretary Cheloy Garafil said the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) had recommended a reduction in the tariff on imported rice to help decrease local rice prices.

The tariff cut would eventually lead to the simultaneous lifting of Executive Order No. 39, which set price caps on regular and well-milled rice in the market, she added.

Under the order, the price cap on regular rice is at P41 per kilogram while the mandated price ceiling on well-milled rice is at P45 per kilogram.

During the sectorial meeting, NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan and Agriculture Undersecretaries Leocadio Sebastian and Mercedita Sombilla agreed that it was not the right time to reduce tariff rates because of the downtrend of rice prices in the global market.

Marcos said the price cap would continue to be in effect since it has to be studied carefully.

“We will study it carefully,” the President said when asked if he would lift the policy.

Imee joins rally

Sen. Imee Marcos on Tuesday joined protest actions in front of the Department of Finance (DOF) building calling for the resignation of President Marcos’ economic managers amid plans to reduce or remove tariff on imported rice that would affect local farmers.

“All my friends are here. All our friends who are farmers, fishermen – everyone from Northern Luzon to Central Luzon as well as friends from Southern Luzon are here. I’m just supporting,” said Marcos when asked about her presence at the rally.

The rallyists demanded the resignation of Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno and Balisacan.

Marcos, the eldest sister of President Marcos, brought food and water as a show of support for those opposing DOF’s proposed tariff reduction on imported rice.


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