Senator Joel Villanueva on Wednesday hailed the approval of Senate Bill No. 1998 or An Act Replacing The Quantitative Import Restrictions On Rice With Tariffs, Lifting The Quantitative Export Restrictions On Rice, And Creating The Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund.
Voting 14-0, the senators approved the bill which will liberalize rice importation in the country. The measure amends Republic Act 8178 or the Agricultural Tariffication Act.
"As one of the authors of the bill, it has been our consistent call to liberalize the entry of cheaper rice in the country to ease the burden of our kababayans suffering from the rising price of rice," Villanueva said.
"We also sincerely thank the bill's principal sponsor, Sen. Cynthia Villar, and our colleagues for supporting the passage of this measure," the senator added.
Under the measure, a 35 percent duty will be imposed on imports coming from Association of SouthEast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states and 50 percent for non-ASEAN member states.
Another salient provision of the bill is to establish a “rice enhancement fund” worth 10 billion pesos from proceeds of the proposed rice tariffs. The fund will be utilized to provide different forms of assistance to our domestic rice farmers such as the development of inbred rice seeds for our farmers, the development of rice farm equipment, and skills enhancement.
"We hope that the immediate enactment of this measure will ensure that our country would not have to suffer rice shortages and, at the same time, discourage the smuggling of rice, a plague that has long been infecting this country," Villanueva stressed.