June 25, 2024

The Insider News

Direct from the source

Romualdez, House leaders act to keep rice affordable

FOLLOWING the decision of the Executive branch to lower tariffs on rice imports, Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez, together with other House leaders, on Thursday met with concerned government and private sector stakeholders who agreed to help keep basic commodities like rice affordable. 

Romualdez thanked the private stakeholders for their cooperation, 

“Nagpapasalamat kami dito sa mga retailers na ka-meeting natin na they are willing to absorb some losses because nakikita nila yung drive ng gobyerno to reduce the price overall, and to pass off the savings from this program to the consumers,” describing the effort as a whole-of-nation approach to addressing the challenge.

ACT CIS Party-list Rep. Erwin Tulfo added that some supermarkets also agreed to support the effort after meeting with the House members. 

“Yung mga kilalang supermarkets we met earlier in preparation doon sa expected na pagbaba ng presyo ng bigas because of this pagbabawas sa tariff ng mga imported na bigas,” Tulfo said.

Romualdez said the House made the initiative “to make sure that we are all on the same page, na coordinated po tayo in anticipation to the release of the EO (executive order) that would effect the reduction on the tariff for rice. The savings that will be afforded will be passed on to the consumers, to all those the end users of these. So, kinausap din natin yung mga retailers and even the private retailers. Alam din natin yung mga Kadiwa stores are always there for the marginalized sector of society, but for the middle-income consumers we use other retail outlets.”

The Speaker tasked the Department of Trade and Industry to monitor basic commodity prices, and ensure that suggested retail prices are adhered to, based on the calculated savings to be gained from the tariff reduction, from the importers to the traders, to retailers in public markets “hanggang umabot sa ating mga consumers.” 

The House will also exercise its oversight function to ensure government’s coordinated action on the matter, according to Romualdez.

Romualdez also assured the public that importation of rice shall be regulated, resorted only when there is an anticipated supply shortfall, to ensure that there is no surplus. He also said that government subsidy to local farmers shall continue. 

“Basta locally produced rice is always the priority,” Romualdez declared.

He also announced the expansion of Kadiwa stores in Puregold supermarkets. Kadiwa stores sell basic commodities besides rice at 10-15% discount to the marginalized sector. 

Romualdez said the proposed amendments to the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) will still be pursued. 

House Committee on Agriculture chairperson Rep. Mark Enverga added that P15 billion from the RTL collection is earmarked to finance the core programs of the RTL.  

Romualdez saw the united effort of all stakeholders leading to the country becoming less reliant on imported rice, towards being rice self-sufficient in the future.