MANILAPresident Rodrigo R. Duterte has approved the unimpeded importation of rice as part of government efforts to combat rising inflation and lower prices, MalacaAang said Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said this decision was reached during the 30th Cabinet meeting on Monday (Oct. 8), describing it as a very hot issue.
The President approved unimpeded importation of rice as a measure to reduce inflation. He wants to flood the market with rice so that even if the price of crude and other oil prices should go up still further, that people will have access to affordable rice, Roque said in a Palace briefing.
According to Roque, this means that the National Food Authority (NFA) will no longer have the power to accredit which rice dealers will be allowed to import rice, and determine how much rice to import.
The issue was whether or not the status quo actually impedes importation of rice. Although the position of some is we are not impeding the importation of rice, the reality was there were maximum volumes allowed. And it was still the NFA dictating how much rice should be imported in the country, Roque said.
With the President's directive, the NFA no longer has any say on how much rice should be imported. Anyone who can afford it and will pay tariffs for rice will be allowed to import rice, he added.
Roque said as long as rice dealers have permits, the NFA will no longer have to approve the importation as long as they comply with documentary requirements.
He explained that the President's directive did not require the issuance of an executive order (EO) since there was no need because the provision found is minimum access volume (MAV).
Roque, meanwhile, said there is no timeframe set for the unimpeded rice importation.
He expressed hope that with this order, giant Filipino companies like San Miguel Corp. will be allowed to import rice. This increase in rice supply will result in overall lowering of prices of rice.
In his third State of the Nation Address (SONA), Duterte urged Congress to deem as urgent the passage of the crucial rice tariffication bill.
Roque said during the Cabinet meeting, the consensus was that they need not wait for a rice tariffication bill to remove unnecessary government intervention in the rice market.
In effect we did not wait for tariffication. The consensus was there was no need for anything. The President can already order the liberalization of rice importation because again, the language found in relevant instruments is minimum access volume so there is no maximum, Roque said.
Roque noted that Duterte is still expecting the passage of a rice tariffication bill but noted that the Palace will not wait for it.
He also assured that tariffs paid will be set aside for local farmers.
Last month, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Administrative Order (AO) No. 13 to streamline procedures on the import of agricultural products, including rice.
Alongside this order, Duterte also signed Memorandum Order (MO) Nos. 26, 27, and 28, which are measures to stabilize the prices of basic agricultural commodities at reasonable levels and maintain their sufficient supply in the domestic market. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency