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BOC collects P6.5B from rice import duties

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Since the Rice Liberalization Act took effect in March this year, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) has collected some P6.5 billion in duties from the rice imports of private traders, according to the Department of Finance (DOF), citing preliminary data.

In a report to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, BOC said that as of July 15 it has collected a total of P6.479 billion from importer-traders under Republic Act (RA) No. 11203, while since January of this year it has earned another P3.103 billion in duties from import permits issued by the National Food Authority (NFA).

The bulk of the collections were from rice import duties under RA 11203 reported by Port of Subic, which collected P1.598 billion, followed by Manila International Container Port with P1.033 billion, and Port of Manila with P998.77 million, according to BOC’s report during a recent DOF executive committee meeting.

DOF said that at an average of P1.4 billion a month, BOC remains on course to collect the minimum of P10 billion per year needed for the Rice Competitive Enhancement Fund (RCEF).

Revenues generated from RA 11203 are earmarked for the annual P10 billion RCEF, which was set up to finance the modernization of the agriculture sector and directly provide farmers with access to credit and training, and funds for mechanization, high-quality seeds, and fertilizers, among other forms of assistance.

On top of paying tariffs, rice importers are required under RA 11203 to secure sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances from the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Plant Industry, which has assumed the food safety regulation function of the NFA under the law.

DOF said liberalizing rice imports has made the staple food more affordable to Filipinos, making retail prices this summer cheaper by about 20% compared to last year’s peak rates. It noted that the average retail cost of the staple has fallen by at least P7 per kilo since the law’s enactment.

BOC earlier said it is on track to meet the target P10 billion tariff collection for this year for rice importations as imports of the commodity have grown by over 400% under the Rice Liberalization Law. It said 966,690 metric tons of imported rice were recorded for the months March to June 2019 compared to only 185,100 metric tons for the same period in 2018.

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