Collections from the import duty slapped on rice reached P7.96 billion as of May, almost four-fifths of the yearly target.

In a statement, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) maintained that it was “adopting measures and corrective actions to ensure correct valuation of rice importations” following allegations of undervaluation that, in turn, reportedly led to losses worth P890 million among local farmers from January to April.

The BOC said it remained “committed to its mandate of collecting and protecting revenues due to the government.”

Of the duties being collected from the implementation of Republic Act No. 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law, P10 billion would be automatically earmarked for the annual Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) aimed at modernizing the rice sector, while excess amounts would be allocated to farmers whose livelihood were badly hit by the import surge due to liberalized trade.

RA 11203 slapped the following levy on imported rice: 35 percent, if the shipment is from Asean; 40 percent, if within the minimum access volume of 350,000 metric tons and from countries outside Asean, and 180 percent, if above the MAV and coming from a non-Asean country.

After it became law in February last year, rice tariffication generated P12.3 billion in import duties in 2019 after the private sector imported 2.03 million MT of the Filipino staple.

In turn, retail prices of rice became cheaper by about P10 a kilo to date compared to their peak in 2018, after the law removed the import quota that had protected the domestic industry while stripping off the state-run National Food Authority its import and regulatory functions.

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