Home » Customs & Trade, Press Releases » Transport crisis, rice tariff bills among LEDAC’s priority measures

The Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) has included the National Transport Act (NTA) and the rice import tariff bill among the 28 priority bills for Philippine Congress to act on first.

The two measures form part of the 14 out of the 28 priority measures tagged as urgent and must be passed by December 2017.

The two bills were included in the Common Legislative Agenda (CLA) for the 17th Congress that was approved on August 29 by LEDAC in its second meeting under the current administration.

Widely represented, LEDAC is the highest consultative and advisory body to the President on economic and development matters that aims to integrate the legislative agenda into the national development plan.

“We are pleased that the approved CLA responds to what the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 has laid out. In fact, 21 out of the 28 measures are identified as priority legislations in the PDP. This development only shows that the whole of government is moving forward in the same direction,” Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia said in a statement.

Pernia added that the Common Legislative Priorities of Congress (consisting of 39 common priorities of both houses) and the President’s Legislative Agenda (consisting of 55 proposed legislations) were the basis for the prioritization.

The NTA and the proposed amendment to Republic Act No. 8178, the law that mandates a quota or quantitative restriction (QR) on rice imports, had been previously endorsed by LEDAC’s executive committee as among the bills that should be passed before the year ends.

NTA, which addresses traffic congestion in the country’s busiest areas, has also been tagged as a priority by both the Senate and Lower House.

Rice tariffication, meanwhile, is needed because the import QR allowed by the World Trade Organization (WTO) for the Philippines has ended, according to Pernia.

“This is to prevent uncertainty as to what the demands of the WTO members will be following the lapse of the QR,” Pernia, who chairs the LEDAC executive committee, said.

In 2014, the WTO allowed the Philippines to extend its rice import QR until June 30, 2017 in exchange for tariff concessions on other goods. With the expiration, the Philippine government has decided to remove the quantitative restriction in favor of tariffs on rice. However, it has extended the quota and concessions until Congress passes amendments to R.A. 8178.

Of the identified necessary bills that have been filed in both houses of Congress, 10 are already in the advanced stages of legislation, including the Comprehensive Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act and the Ease of Doing Business Act. The Free Higher Education Act was signed into law last August 2.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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