Villar lauds passage of rice tariffication bill into law

Senator Cynthia Villar on Saturday lauded the passage into law of the Rice Tariffication Act.

“We thank and laud the President for signing into law the bill creating a package of support programs for farmers, most notably the P10 billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund,” she said in a statement.

Villar, who sits as chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, is the sponsor and principal author of the rice tariffication bill.

Malacañang, on Friday, announced that President Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law the measure removing the quantitative restrictions on rice and imposing a 35-percent tariff on imports from the country’s neighbors in Southeast Asia.

The law allows unlimited importation of rice as long as private sector traders secure a phytosanitary permit from the Bureau of Plant Industry and pay the 35-percent tariff for shipments from neighbors in Southeast Asia.

The law earmarks P10 billion for the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund, of which P5 billion will be allotted for farm mechanization and P3 billion for seedlings.

The fund intends to ensure that rice imports will not drown out the agriculture sector and rob farmers of their livelihood.

“With the expiration of the quantitative restriction on rice importation, this is a very important piece of legislation, which will help our farmers improve their profitability and competitiveness,” Villar said.

“This law complements other government programs addressing the needs of the farming sector, including the P7 billion Rice Program under the Department of Agriculture and the P7 billion budget of the National Food Authority which will be used to buy palay from local farmers for purposes of buffer stocking,” the senator said. —GMA News