THE Bureau of Customs (BoC) said that it is on track to achieve the P10 billion revenue target for rice import tariffs to fund the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF), after more liberalized rice imports started in March.

RCEF is a P10 billion-a-year component of the Rice Tariffication Law, to be funded by tariffs on imports shipped in by private parties, in order to fund mechanization, credit, seed and training programs for rice farmers.

In a statement Friday, the BoC said privately-imported rice totaled 966,690 metric tons (MT) in the March to June period, up 422.25% from a year earlier.

“The Bureau is on track to meet the P10 billion target tariff collection set under law,” the BoC said.

According to BoC, monthly rice imports averaged 256,445 MT a month, up 454.18% from the average prior to the implementation of Republic Act (RA) No. 11203, or the Rice Tariffication Law.

The Department of Finance (DoF) has said that the BoC was able to collect 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.

The BoC did not explain why it totals diverge from the DoF’s. The DoF was citing preliminary Customs data.

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

The Port of Davao, meanwhile, collected P703.93 million.

“The steady volume of rice importation is a strong indication that the BoC will be able to meet the target of P10 billion pesos in tariff collections for the year for remittance to the RCEF as well as other concerned agencies in connection to RA 11203,” the BoC said.

Collections in excess of P10 billion will be used to help rice farmers diversify into other crops. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio