Reduce or cut rice tariff to lower prices – former DA exec

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 7) – Instead of implementing a rice price cap, a former agriculture executive suggested reducing or cutting tariff rates on imported rice to lower rice prices in the country.

“You cannot legislate laws that will lower the [rice] price. You have to play with the supply and demand,” Fermin Adriano, a former DA undersecretary for policy, planning and research, said in an interview with CNN Philippines’ The Final Word.

He said a better policy to implement is the temporary removal or reduction of tariff on rice from 35% to 10%.

“There is no compelling reason why we should keep on exacting tariffs, if we lower the tariff then rice imports will become cheaper,” Adriano said, adding that imported rice is to blame in rice price surge.

On Sept. 1, Malacañang issued an executive order setting price ceilings for rice across the country.

Executive Order 39 set the price cap for regular milled rice at ₱41 per kilo and for well-milled rice at ₱45 per kilo. It took effect last Tuesday.

READ: Nationwide price caps for rice set

Rice traders, meanwhile, called for deferment of the implementation of the order to allow traders to sell off remaining rice stocks which they purchased at higher prices.

‘Low rice productivity’

Adriano also cited low productivity of farmers despite ample budget given to the agricultural department.

“We have no choice but to import. That is the main problem," he said. "The [farmers'] productivity has not kept up with the demand of the Filipino people."

He said the productivity gains is less than 1% in the Philippines for the last 20 years.