Based on a news report, BoC Assistant Commissioner Vincent Maronilla confirmed the FFF’s claims and revealed that importers were required to post
bonds when their declared import prices were lower than the agency’s reference prices. However. . . .
The FFF explained that the RTL, which was enacted in March 2019, removed the import monopoly of the National Food Authority (NFA),
an agency under the DA. It also limited the agency to the maintenance of buffer stocks that had to be locally procured and . . . .
“By not diligently enforcing its rules, the BoC did not only reduce the government’s collection of much-needed tariff revenues.
More importantly, it deprived millions of small rice farmers of a cumulative amount of almost Php 3 billion since the Rice Tariffication Law. . . .
The FFF noted that Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar has repeatedly maintained that there is enough rice.
“If, as Secretary Dar implies, there is no rice shortage, then there is no legal basis for PITC to import rice under the RTL.”, said Raul Montemayor,. . . .
“If the DA will allow 2.7 million tons of rice imports anyway, it might as well do away with the RRP and save the government P8.5 billion.
We still end up with a comfortable ending inventory of 3 million tons, good for 85 days. The RRP will only result in depressed prices and higher. . . .
“The current rise in palay prices is almost exclusively due to the COVID pandemic, which has made it more difficult and expensive to import rice.
At the same time, there was an increased demand for rice to support households affected by the lockdowns. . . .
Raul Montemayor, FFF National Manager, deplored the inconsistent and conflicting signals that the DA has been giving to farmers.
“On the one hand, it is encouraging farmers to expand their production and enticing them with loans, subsidies and other incentives. . . .
The FFF urged the DA to carefully calibrate the entry of imports in order to avoid the recurrence of a supply glut that resulted in a drastic drop in palay prices in 2019
following the enactment of the RTL. It reiterated its proposals for the DA to avail of trade remedies such as. . . .