By Hannah Torregoza
Senators on Thursday called on government economic managers to thoroughly study the impact of rice tariffication to over 3.5 million local farmers before pursuing it.
“Our economic managers should study carefully the impact of rice tariffication to our local farmers. We want to help our people by easing inflation, but we need to be careful that it doesn’t cause more hardship to those in the agricultural sector,” Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito said.
“How much dent on inflation will tariffication bring about? What support mechanisms will we provide our local farmers? How can government ensure that the agricultural sector will not be obliterated by the flooding of cheap, imported rice?” Ejercito added.
Ejercito said the government has not even given the local farming industry sufficient support to meet their needs and yet they are now bent on allowing imported rice to enter the local market. “Baka naman lalo pa silang maghirap!” he lamented.
“Development is not a zero sum game where one sector wins at the expense of another group. Ang tunay pag unlad ay ang pag ginawa ng buhay ng lahat ng Pilipino,” added the senator.
Sen. Paolo “Bam” Aquino IV said it is imperative that the government considers the welfare of farmers and fishermen when they tackle the proposed lower tariffs for meat, fish and rice.
“Lowering the tariffs will lower the price. But with the lowering of the price of imported commodities, our farmers and our fishermen stand to affected,” Aquino pointed out during the proposed 2019 national budget.
National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) director-general Ernesto Pernia, during the hearing assured lawmakers that there would be consultations with the affected sectors regarding the matter.
Aquino, likewise, said the government must ensure that mitigating measures are in place for millions of farmers before implementing rice tariffication.
“Rice tariffication will have a detrimental effect to 3.5 million Filipino rice farmers. The government must be prepared with providing assistance before they implement this,” he said.
Aquino said the delays in mitigating measures convinced him to vote “no” to the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) Law during the ratification.