Senator Pangilinan Urges Government to Use Excess Rice Tax as Cash Aid
Senator Francis Pangilinan urges the government to convert the excess revenue from the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) to cash assistance as prices of palay (unhusked rice) continue to decrease.
Due to the drop in rice prices, farmers in the Philippines are in need of financial assistance from the government to keep themselves afloat.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the average quotation of unmilled rice is ₱17.88 per kilogram, while several provinces reportedly have an average of ₱11 per kilogram.
Pangilinan states, “The life-saving measure is direct cash assistance especially to the small farmers now suffering from the plunge in the prices of palay and the lack of other livelihood opportunities due to the pandemic.”
As of July, the government has collected ₱10.728 billion in taxes from rice imports, meeting the ₱10 billion allocation for the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF). According to Pangilinan, the tax collected in excess of the ₱10 billion may be allocated as cash assistance to the farmers.
He continued, “We have an excess collection of ₱728 million as of July and this should directly benefit the farmers, especially in these hard times. We need to get the cash in their hands so they can continue to plant and put food on every Filipino’s table.”
Pangilinan urges the Department of Agriculture (DA) to immediately address the situation, which is expected to happen regularly after the enactment of the RTL last year.
The RTL opened the Philippine market to unlimited rice imports at higher tax rates, making the Philippines the world’s top rice importer in November 2019.