PBBM admin eyeing for P29 per kilo of rice for the poor with newly approved tariff rates

MANILA — The government is aiming for a P29 per kilo of rice for the poor, following the NEDA Board’s approval of the new Comprehensive Tariff Program for 2024-2028 to be complemented by direct subsidies, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said on Tuesday.

The program calibrates the current tariff rates until 2028, a strategic move to ensure access and affordability to essential commodities while balancing the interest of consumers and local producers which is crucial for fostering rapid, sustained and inclusive economic growth.

The program was approved during the 17th NEDA Board meeting, presided by the President as Chairperson, on Tuesday in Malacañang.

Under the Comprehensive Tariff program for 2024-2028, the NEDA approved the reduced tariff dates of duty on some basic goods including rice at 15 percent in-quota and out-quota rates

With the reduced tariff rates, prices of said commodities like rice will be reduced significantly, Balisacan stated.

“We are at least aiming for, the Department of Agriculture is aiming for a reduction of 29 pesos per kilo, at least for the poor, because we will complement this tariff reduction with the direct subsidies to the poor and vulnerable so that at least they could access the food, the 29 pesos per kilo,” Balisacan said during a press briefing in Malacañang.

“But overall, with the tariff reduction from 35 to 15 percent, everybody will benefit from that, this is crucial as I emphasized because world prices are still increasing. And so, if we don’t reduce the tariff, with the increasing world prices compounded by 35 percent tariff over and above that, prices and inflation will remain to be very serious problem. So with this, we expect those upward pressure and rice prices to ease,” Balisacan explained.

Asked how soon the tariff adjustment to take effect on local rice prices, Balisacan said it will take a little bit more time because an executive order has to be issued and that will influence the decision of private sectors to import.

With regard to subsidy to be provided by the government, Balisacan said the NFA rice that the Department of Agriculture is talking about is about buffer stocking for emergencies, which will shield the poor.

The additional imports to be brought in by government could be sourced from imports or from the private sector or even also from the farmers to augment the subsidy to be given to the poor.

Balisacan said, the intention, as directed by the President, is to get the rice prices as low as possible, so that poor households can get that from a lower tariff and much lower priced NFA rice from Kadiwa centers.

The support will be handed over in the form of cash, which will be channeled to DSWD’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) to prevent leakages and to ensure that the subsidy will end up with those targeted by the program, he further said.

In addition, Balisacan said the government is also ramping the implementation of food stamp program to be rolled out by the DSWD. “The pilot phase of the project is ending soon, and then the roll out of the program to cover more households will begin soon. So all this should at least, again, for the poor will improve their access to affordable rice,” he said. (PND)

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