THE BUREAU of Customs (BoC) has collected a total of P5.9 billion in tariffs from 1.43 million metric tons (MT) of rice imported by private traders following the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law in March, the Department of Finance (DoF) said Thursday.

According to the DoF, the Port of Manila generated the highest tariff collections from the rice shipments at P978.51 million, followed by the Manila International Container Port at P942.76 million, then the Port of Cagayan de Oro at P754.13 million.

The Port of Davao, meanwhile, collected P703.93 million, based on preliminary data from the BoC.

The Rice Tariffication Law removed quantitative restrictions on rice imports while imposing tariffs to fund the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), which will aid rice farmers in the form of mechanization, credit, education and seed.

The RCEF allocation for farmers is P10 billion annually.

The DoF said that liberalizing rice imports has made the food more affordable, with a drop of P10 per kilo at retail during the dry-season months.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has said that it expects revenue collected from rice imports to exceed P10 billion.

The law provides that the excess is to be used to help farmers diversify into other crops.

“The law stipulates that the excess of P10 billion will go back to assist farmers diversifying into other crops. Assistance for diversification is not in the RCEF. Funds for this will come from the excess revenue,” NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie G. Edillon has said. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio