MANILA — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has rejected proposals to reduce rice import tariffs, saying it was not the right time.
“We decided with the agriculture and economic managers that … it was not the right time to lower the tariff rates because the projection of world rice prices is that it will go down," said Marcos.
"So, this is not the right time to lower tariffs. Tariffs are generally lowered when the price is going up,” he added.
Press Secretary Cheloy Garafil said Marcos made the decision following the sectoral meeting with agriculture officials, the National Economic and Development Authority, the Department of Finance, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Budget and Management.
Agriculture Undersecretaries Leocadio Sebastian and Mercedita Sombilla backed the President's decision due to the same reasons, said Garafil.
Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno earlier proposed to temporarily reduce the tariff rates on imported rice to between zero and 10 percent.
NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan also earlier said cutting import tariffs on the rice grain was among the measures being looked at to rein in the cost of the grain, following the price cap on two rice types.
In the meantime, Marcos said it was also important to study carefully the lifting of Executive Order No. 39, which sets the price ceiling for regular milled rice at P41 per kilo and well-milled rice at P45 per kilo.
“Pag-aralan natin mabuti,” he said.
The Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FCCII) earlier supported cutting rice import tariffs, saying it would not only lower rice prices and temper increasing food inflation, but also help stabilize rice supplies.
Groups, including the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura, however warned that this would hurt local agriculture and have called on Balisacan and Diokno to resign.