Budget veto impact on rice competitiveness fund studied

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AGRICULTURE Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said Sunday that the possible reenactment of the 2018 budget for the entire year could affect disbursements from the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).

“I still have to determine its implications on the RCEF,” Mr. Piñol told BusinessWorld in a phone message.

The RCEF is a component of Republic Act No. 11203, or the Rice Tariffication Law, and is funded by tariffs generated by rice imports. The fund hopes to make the domestic rice industry more competitive through farm mechanization, access to better seed, and more financing and extension services, among other measures.

Senator Loren B. Legarda has confirmed that RCEF has been allocated P10 bill in the 2019 General Appropriations Bill, which is currently under study for signing by the Palace.

The Budget is under threat of Presidential veto because of questions about the legality of alleged “insertions” made by legislators after the Budget was ratified by the bicam conference committee.

When asked about the RCEF, Agriculture Undersecretary Ariel T. Cayanan said “RCEF…is over and above to whatever budget we have on rice.” — Charmaine A. Tadalan