AMID calls to amend or repeal the Rice Tariffication Law, business groups urged the government to properly implement the law to ensure any “temporary adjustment problems” will be addressed.

In a joint statement on Thursday, the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (AmCham), Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP), Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FinEx), Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF), Makati Business Club (MBC), and the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), expressed their support for Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law, which allowed importation of rice with no limit, with the imposition of a 35% tariff.

“We urge the proper implementation of the RTL (Rice Tariffication Law) to ensure that the temporary adjustment problems experienced by our rice sector will be mitigated, and we are sure that out from the birth pains, a new, vibrant, and modern Philippine Agriculture sector will emerge,” the groups said.

The business groups issued the statement amid calls by some lawmakers to amend or repeal the Rice Tariffication Law.

“To reverse it now is tantamount to consigning our agriculture to under development and our farm families continuing child malnutrition. It is for this reason why we support the current efforts of Secretary William D. Dar of the Department of Agriculture to effectively implement the (law) to protect our palay farmers and preserve the gains of the (law),” the business groups said.

The law took effect in March 2019, with the goal of improving the productivity and harvest quality of Filipino farmers, pushing them to be more competitive. The law also created the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund, which allots P10 billion for the rice industry annually until 2024. This will be used to improve mechanization, distribution of high-yield inbred seeds, credit, and extension support and education of rice farmers.

The industry is currently facing plummeting prices of palay, or unmilled rice, which many associate with the implementation of the law.

To address this, the Agriculture department has launched loan programs for rice farmers to lessen the impact of the drop, like the P2.5-billion expanded Survival and Recovery Assistance (SURE Aid) program.

It is also looking into the possible imposition of safeguard duties due to oversupply of imported rice. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang