Filipinos may soon avail of rice available at the market for as low as P25 as soon as the imported rice starts arriving in the country.
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) made the statement allaying concerns that poor people will no longer have access to cheap rice when the National Food Authority (NFA) stops selling rice at P27.
As the Rice Industry Modernization Act takes effect on March 5, subsidized rice is no longer available in the market.
However, NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon said that the presence of imported rice in the market would further lower its price.
She said that rice from Vietnam is currently around P18 per kilo. But its selling price may be at P24.30 with the additional 35 percent tariff.
The important thing, according to Edillon, is that there will be competitors in the market as there should be no monopoly.
The NEDA official said that there are already some players in the rice trade, thereby ensuring healthy competition. She added that the Philippine Competition Commission would come in to ensure that there is a competition in the rice market.
Benefits to the farmers
While farmer groups called for the scrapping of the Rice Industry Modernization Law, Edillon said that they would also benefit from it. She explains that the tariffs collected will be used to modernize the rice industry through the Rice Competitiveness Enhance Fund.
Likewise, the Department of Budget and Management released P5 billion to the Department of Agriculture (DA). The fund is for programs that will protect the farmers from the possible adverse effects of the Rice Import Liberalization Law.
Meanwhile, the NFA has procured more than 200,000 bags of palay, or unhusked rice, in the first two months of the year.
Tomas Escarez, NFA Officer-in-Charge said that more farmers are selling their harvest to NFA with the implementation of the additional P3 per kilo stocking incentive last October 2018.