Palace hopes importation compensates for P14-B damage to crops

MANILA MalacaAang on Tuesday expressed hope that the government's policy shift to allow the importation of rice and other crops will compensate for the agriculture losses brought about by Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut).

The Department of Agriculture (DA) earlier said that agricultural damage in the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR), caused by the typhoon, reached PHP14.27 billion with huge losses in rice, corn, high-value crops, and livestock.

We can't deny that PHP14 billion was a very high cost to agriculture. However, we now have a policy shift, we have allowed the entry of import of food products which we hope will bring down the cost of good, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace briefing.

Citing DA Secretary Emmanuel Manny PiAol, Roque said that because there is an increase in the reported losses in corn, the government may have to import more corn as well.

We're also hoping that open importation of these food products will also offset whatever shortage or lower supply may result as a result of Ompong, Roque said.

In other words, we hope to compensate the loss because of Ompong through importation, he added.

Roque is also counting on the government's institutional steps, such as simplifying and streamlining the licensing procedures for rice imports to address food supply issues and bring inflation down.

We're hoping that inflation will not worsen the cost of institutional steps already taken by the government to help reign-in inflation, Roque said.

Earlier, Roque said MalacaAang will urge Congress to pass the Rice Tariffication Bill within the month.

The Economic Cluster Group will submit to the Office of the President a draft executive order, removing administrative constraints and non-tariff barriers on importation of food products.

Kapag nag-tariffication tayo wala nang quantitative restrictions 'yan eh (If we have tariffication, there will no longer be quantitative restrictions). Free market to import in exchange for payment of tariffs which we will use to provide assistance to our farmers, Roque said.

According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, Ompong left about 60 people dead.

The NDRRMC deployed an additional 14-man multi-agency national incident management team to augment the ongoing rescue efforts in the CAR. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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