Ex-NEDA chief 'disappointed' after Marcos rejected proposal to cut rice tariffs

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 28) — Former National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Cielito Habito expressed disappointment after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. rejected the proposal to reduce rice tariffs.

"The idea of reducing or even cutting the tariffs on rice at this point was meant to support his rice [price] cap [implementation]," Habito told CNN Philippines' The Final Word on Wednesday.

Marcos — who's also agriculture chief — rejected his economic managers' proposal on Tuesday, saying it is "not the right time" to cut the tariff imposed on imported rice as world prices are seen to go down.

Habito said easier access to imported rice could have made local rice prices go down below the price ceiling.

"Without that reduction in tariff, it may be more difficult to precisely enforce that price cap," he added. "The tariff cut was meant to make it [rice price cap] unnecessary."

READ: Gov't warns of stricter rice price cap implementation in coming days

Under Executive Order No. 39, which took effect on Sept. 5, regular milled rice may only be sold for up to ₱41 per kilogram, while the price cap on well-milled rice is at ₱45 per kilogram.

The Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura welcomed Marcos' decision to reject the tariff cut.

The group also said the government may already remove the price cap by October once rice prices reach lower than ₱45 due to the upcoming harvest season.