The Bureau of Customs (BoC) said it breached its annual P10-billion rice tariff collection target seven months into the year despite weak imports.

In a statement Friday, the BoC reported rice tariff collections of P10.728 billion between January and July 17, exceeding its annual goal for the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), which supports governmen efforts to make rice farmers more competitive.

The total exceeds the P9.936 billion collected a year earlier. It noted that the collections were accompanied by lower rice import volumes, which fell 24.6% year-on-year to 1,651.267 metric tons (MT).

“The BoC consistently conducts close monitoring of the declared value on rice importations in view of its strict adherence to global published prices for rice which serve as a guide when the veracity of the declared values is under dispute,” it said in the statement.

In 2019, the BoC collected P12.3 billion from 2.03 million MT of rice imports.

Signed into law in February 2019, Republic Act (RA) No. 11203 or the Rice Import Tariffication Law allowed unrestricted imports by private parties, who need to pay 35% tariffs on Southast Asian grain. The tariffs fund the RCEF budget of P10 billion a year.

The BoC has an overall collection target of P541.7billion this year, reduced from the P730-billion set earlier due to the weak outlook for the economy. — Beatrice M. Laforga