THE NATIONAL Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said it is expecting more than the authorized P10 billion total to be collected from rice import tariffs under the Rice Tariffication Law, with the excess to be used to help farmers diversify into other crops.

In a mobile message, NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie G. Edillon said NEDA is still in the process of finalizing its estimates of total revenue from rice tariffication this year.

The Rice Tariffication Law cam into force on March 5. Its provisions include the allotment of P10 billion for the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) which will be used to assist farmers in the form of mechanization, credit, education and seed.

“We are still finalizing our estimates. But we do expect it to be higher than P10 billion. The law stipulates that the excess of P10 billion will go back to assist farmers diversifying into other crops,” Ms. Edillon said.

“Assistance for diversification is not in the RCEF. Funds for this will come from the excess revenue,” Ms. Edillon added.

Ms. Edillon declined to give initial estimates of revenue from tariffs.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has been advanced P5 billion from the re-enacted 2018 Budget pending the generation of revenue for the RCEF proper, NEDA Assistant Secretary Mercedita A. Sombilla has said.

Another P5 billion will be given to DA in the third quarter to complete the P10 billion RCEF for the year, according to Ms. Sombilla.

Mayroon nang napaunang P5 billion (The first P5 billion has been released). About P1 billion out of that has to be given to the farmers. DA is now trying to allocate some parts of it to the various agencies who are supposed to receive the RCEF,” Ms. Sombilla said in a briefing late last month.

Kinakausap na namin ang DA (We’ve spoken to the DA). As much as possible, (it needs to) find measures to allocate some money to PhilMech, PhilRice, and to the training institutes which should be receiving money from RCEF,” according to Ms. Sombilla, referring to the various agencies in charge of farm mechanization and rice research. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio