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About two weeks ago, President Rodrigo R. Duterte, in an interview with Ted Failon from ABS-CBN, said that he will sign an executive order imposing a limit on the prices of certain medicines. “That’s good for the Filipino, reduced prices or maintaining a price. I will even sign the document twice over,” the President said.
Most of the analysis done on the impact of the rice tariffication law make use of fairly recent data, as in what happened to rice imports, palay and rice prices in 2019. It may be useful to look slightly farther back, say in the last 10 to 15 years. Had the changes observed this year been unprecedented? If they had occurred before, the chances of our rice farmers, millers, and traders surviving what would seem now to be extremely adverse situation for the industry are high.
Public support is shifting from rice consumers in 2018 to rice farmers this year. Last year, the country’s inflation rate breached Central Bank’s upper band. Analysts blamed that on rice price inflation, which carries among the largest weight in the consumer’s price index.
Calls for the review of the rice tariffication law at this point are premature as it has been less than a year since it started being implemented. Farmers have yet to receive the assistance which the rice competitiveness enhancement fund (RCEF) offers. Agriculture secretary William D. Dar had just assumed his post, pledging to implement the law effectively. I don’t see any evidence at this point that the lawmakers of the 17th Congress made a big mistake passing this law.
July to September of any year is when we have the lowest local supply of rice. In the past, the National Food Authority (NFA) would have been ready with at least 30 days-worth of rice stock by July 1, most of which would be imported. The remaining 60 days of rice stock to be consumed by the population were expectedly held by households and the private commercial sector. That had been how we managed the seasonality of rice production to ensure our access to our food staple.
DA Undersecretary Fred Serrano threw his support to groups urging President Duterte to veto the rice tariffication law in Friday’s issue of Business Mirror.
An important lesson of the 2008 global financial crisis is that unstable real estate markets can bring down the global economy. Corollary to that, they can deprive an emerging economy with financing, stunting investments and economic growth.
The House of Representatives has passed its version of the rice tariffication law. Apparently, they did that to make good (finally after 23 years) the country’s obligation under the WTO’s agreement of agriculture to convert a quantity restriction or QR on rice imports into ordinary tariff protection.
The NFA reverts back to the Office of the Secretary of Agriculture. Through the years, administrative control of the NFA has shifted between the...