June 25, 2024

The Insider News

Direct from the source

Romualdez to gov’t agencies, private sector: Help PBBM bring down price of rice ASAP

Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez addresses questions from the media about the rising price of rice during a press conference at the Manila Golf and Country Club in Makati City on Thursday afternoon. Also present are Deputy Majority Leader and ACT-CIS Partylist Rep. Erwin Tulfo, Chairman of the Committee on Agriculture and Quezon 1st District Rep. Wilfrido Mark Enverga, along with other rice traders

SPEAKER Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez on Thursday called on government agencies and the private sector to adopt a whole-of-nation approach in complying with President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr.’s instructions to make available lower price of rice to the public as soon as possible.

Speaker Romualdez made the appeal in a meeting that he hosted for government agencies which include the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) at the Makati Golf and Country Club in Makati City.

Also present at the meeting were representatives of SM Supermarkets and Puregold Stores, which are among the biggest retailers of rice and other basic goods in the country today.

“The President is doing everything in his power to bring down the price of rice and make them available to millions of Filipinos in all parts of the country. It is now our obligation to work together and adopt a whole-of-nation approach to make this possible,” Speaker Romualdez said.

“Our general direction: Quality, affordable rice, always,” he added.

Speaker Romualdez noted that although P29 per kilo rice is already available in the Kadiwa stores in all regions, the reach of these stores is still very limited and their stocks limited.

“What we envision is not only to make affordable rice available in Kadiwa Centers, but make quality affordable rice to the general public. In all markets, in all parts of the country, all the time,” he pointed out.

The House leader explained that the administration of President Marcos, with the help of Congress, is using all powers in its arsenal to bring down not only the price of rice but also of other basic food items and agricultural products.

“The reduction in tariff for rice is just one of the approaches. The expansion of Kadiwa stores is another. We are hopeful that the Senate will approve their version of the amendments to the Rice Tariffication Law which was passed by the House of Representatives last month,” he said.

Speaker Romualdez, at the same, allayed the fears of farmers’ group that the reduction of rice tariff will flood the Philippine market of imported rice at the expense of locally-produced rice.

“There is nothing to fear about massive importation. Our priority is still locally-produced rice. We only resort to importation only to offset our shortfall in rice production,” he said.

“We are only reducing tariffs to absorb price shocks in the world market and free-fall in foreign exchange. This is just stop-gap measure and our goal is still rice sufficiency and affordability,” he added.

Speaker Romualdez also assured farmers that the subsidies in rice production will continue even with losses in revenues as a result of the reduced tariff in rice.

“Just from January to May this year alone, the Bureau of Customs had already collected  21.6 billion earmarked for subsidy to rice farmers. Government has enough resources to continue the subsidies, and Congress is ready to provide more funds if still needed,” the Speaker added.

Govermennt officials who were present during the meeting with the Speaker include DA Undersecretary Christopher Morales, DTI Assistant Secretart Agaton Uvero, and BOC Deputy Commissioners Vener Baquiran and Clarence Dizon.

Speaker Romualdez was accompanied in the meeting by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Zaldy Co of Ako Bicol Partylist, Agriculture Committee Chairman Mark Enverga of Quezon, and Deputy Majority Leader Erwin Tulfo of ACT-CIS Partylist.

The private sector was represented by SM Prime President Jeffrey Lim and Puregold President Vincent Co.