THE BUREAU OF CUSTOMS (BoC) said it has collected tariffs worth nearly P6.5 billion as of mid-July on rice imports since the Rice Tariffication Law went into effect in March, with the monthly average of P1.4 billion on track to fund the P10-billion-a-year Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).

In a statement Monday, the BoC said it is “on course” to meet RCEF funding requirements, which will allow the fund to support farm mechanization, seed and fertilizer acquisition and make credit more readily available.

The Rice Tariffication Law permitted more liberal imports of rice by private entities, who had to pay an import tariff of 35% on foreign grain sourced from Southeast Asia. It replaced the system of largely government-to-government rice orders overseen by the National Food Authority (NFA), which has been relegated to procuring rice from domestic farmers.

“At an average of P1.4 billion a month, the BoC remains on course to collect the minimum of P10 billion needed for the RCEF per year,” the BoC said.

The BoC reported to its parent agency, the Department of Finance, that it took in P6.479 billion from importer-traders as of July 15. It also raised a further P3.103 billion from the tax on import permits issued by the National Food Authority (NFA) since January.

The Port of Subic collected P1.598 billion worth of rice duties, followed by the Manila International Container Port (MICP) with P1.033 billion collections, and the Port of Manila with P998.77 million.

Economic managers have estimated that the law will reduce the price of the staple by at least P7 per kilo. — Beatrice M. Laforga