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RTL brought down rice prices — DoF

Under the RTL, all import duties collected from rice imports beginning 5 March 2019, went to the RCEF and other agriculture modernization programs.

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Despite criticisms over the influx of imported rice, the Department of Finance (DoF) has maintained that the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) significantly slashed the prices of the staple food for millions of Filipinos.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said in a statement Sunday that the RTL pushed rice prices to an average of P39 per kilogram (kg), a P7 reduction from its cost in 2018 when it peaked at a per-kilo retail cost of around P46.

“The Rice Tariffication Law was finally achieved after more than 30 years of failed attempts under previous administrations. The law opened up the Philippine rice market and, in turn, reduced the price of our country’s staple food for more than 100 million Filipinos,” Dominguez said.

In 2018 before the RTL took effect, the retail price of regular-milled rice (RMR) spiked to P46.04 per kg. After RTL, the average price of this rice variety went down to P39.13 as of April 2022, or cheaper by P6.91 per kg.

Dominguez also pointed out that the liberalization of rice helped the government handle the Covid-19 crisis “with strength on the food security front.”

President Duterte signed the RTL into law on 14 February 2019, as Republic Act (RA) 11203. The law, which later took effect on 5 March 2019, replaced rice import quantitative restrictions with tariffs.

Under the RTL, all import duties collected from rice imports beginning 5 March 2019, went to the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) and other agriculture modernization programs.

In the first four months of 2022 alone, the Bureau of Customs collected P6.6 billion in duties from rice imports, or two-thirds of the P10 billion earmarked annually for RCEF.

Pre-RTL, the National Food Authority (NFA) monopolized rice importations, with a few private traders granted import permits that controlled the price and supply of rice.

However, under the current regime, NFA is limited to ensuring emergency rice stocks are exclusively procured from local palay farmers.

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