DOF seeks cut in rice tariff, exemption of trucks from higher toll fees

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DOF seeks cut in rice tariff
Image by Tongpradit Charoenphon from Pixabay
  • The Department of Finance is proposing a temporary cut in rice tariff to zero to a maximum of 10% from the current 35% to arrest surging rice prices
  • Temporary exemption of trucks carrying agricultural goods from increased toll fees is also pushed
  • The full implementation of the Bureau of Customs’ Super Green Lane, which allows for advance processing and clearance of shipments for the country’s top-qualified importers, is likewise seen to expedite rice imports

The Department of Finance (DOF) is seeking to temporarily cut tariff on rice imports to zero to a maximum of 10% from the current 35% to arrest the surge in rice prices.

This is part of measures the economic team plans to implement to mitigate the negative impact of the price control on rice retailers and farmers, according to Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno in a statement.

President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr on August 31 signed Executive Order No. 39 imposing price ceilings on rice of P41 per kilogram for regular milled rice and P45 per kg for well-milled rice.

Diokno over the weekend admitted he was “shocked” when the price cap was announced, noting the economic team was not consulted on the policy. He said, however, that “the EO can be proven effective in the near term, but should not persist for an extended period.”

He stressed the economic team backed the rice price cap as a “crucial stop-gap solution to provide immediate relief”.

He said: “Executive Order No. 39 was issued by the President as the chief executive and the concurrent secretary of the Department of Agriculture. EO 39 serves as a lifeline, extending much-needed relief to Filipinos grappling with the high rice prices.”

Diokno noted the importance of supplementing the EO with a comprehensive set of measures though to achieve long-term rice price stability in the country.

Part of these other measures pushed by the economic team are the temporary exemption of trucks carrying agricultural goods from increased toll fees, and full implementation of the Bureau of Customs’ Super Green Lane. The SGL allows for advance processing and clearance of shipments for the country’s top importers so they can expedite rice imports.

Diokno also underscored the importance of encouraging timely rice imports by the private sector.

The government likewise aims to curb non-competitive behavior in the rice industry by actively pursuing cases of hoarding, smuggling, and economic sabotage.

Diokno said there should be strict monitoring of prices of imported rice throughout the logistics chain.

Marcos has also directed the Department of Agriculture and Department of Trade and Industry to monitor rice prices by inspecting markets and storage facilities.

The Inter-agency Committee on Inflation and Market Outlook, which the DOF co-chairs, will continue to monitor developments in food and non-food inflation in order to effectively identify the measures needed to mitigate inflationary pressures.