THE BUREAU of Customs collected P14.3 billion worth of tariffs from 2.18 million metric tons of rice imports as of early October, exceeding the year-earlier performance and adding to the excess funding available to the government once the P10-billion commitment for rice industry modernization is met.

Collections rose 3.2% in the year to date ending Oct. 8, the Department of Finance said in a statement Thursday.

Incoming shipments were valued at P40.81 billion.

Rice import duties are collected to support the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) as authorized by Republic Act 11203, or the Rice Tariffication Law, which sets aside P10 billion a year to modernize rice farms and upgrade farmers’ know-how and access to seed and credit. The intent of the law is to make domestic farmers more competitive against imports.

Excess collections beyond P10 billion may be appropriated according to budget needs.

The average value of rice imports rose to P18,898 per metric ton in 2021, from P18,867 a year earlier, Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero said.

“Due to the continuous decline of the price of rice in the world market since May 2021, the average value of rice per metric ton increased by only 0.2% versus last year,” he said.

The Rice Tariffication Law, signed in 2019 eased the restrictions on rice imports by private entities, which must pay a 35% tariff on Southeast Asian grain.

The government collected P15.47 billion in rice tariffs in 2020. — Jenina P. Ibañez