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Farmers group says NEDA did not coordinate with them on rice tariff cuts

13 June 2024

Federation of Free Farmers chairman Leonardo Montemayor on Tuesday said that the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) did not coordinate with farmers groups in the creation of the Rice Tariffication Act.

In a Senate Committee hearing on Agriculture, Food, and Agrarian Reform, Montemayor said that they were not in approval of the extension of the Executive Order No. 10 as “it did not work in the past.”

They said that the issuance of EO 50 until 2028 came as a shock, as they believed it was initially supposed to be a temporary measure to be implemented only until the end of 2024.

“That EO was only supposed to be a stopgap or temporary measure. Bakit [extended] all the way to 2028? Ginawang permanent na ata ito nang wala pong konsultasyon. Wala pong konsultasyong ginanap, wala naman pong tariff commission hearings,” said Montemayor.

(That EO was only supposed to be a stopgap or temporary measure. Why [was it extended] all the way to 2028? It seems like it was made permanent without consultation. No consultation was conducted, there were no tariff commission hearings)

He further said that the decision was what caused farmer groups to push for the resignation of NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balicasan.

“According to Secretary Balisacan, dumaan po sa proseso. Wala naman pong nangyaring ganon. That’s why we were calling for his resignation,” he added.

(According to Secretary Balicasan, this went through the correct process. Nothing of the sort happened. That’s why we were calling for his resignation.)

“We’re worried because right now, the prices of imported rice mahal pa rin po tapos yung piso natin humihina… Totoo na bababa [ang presyo ng bigas] ng siyete pero doon po sa landed cost, pero po pagdating sa retail di po yan mangyayari,” Montemayor said.

(We’re worried because right now, the prices of imported rice are still expensive and our piso is weakening… It’s true that [the rice prices] will lower by P7 but only for the landed cost, but it will not happen for retail.)

Montemayor also said that data used by the government had to be correct, citing that PSA initially released data that the national rice stock can only supply 44 days.

“Our own analysis, and even the DA, based again on PSA data, we have 60 to 66 days’ supply. We are safe in terms of supply at least in 2024. Iba ang sabi ng PSA… That is another area na dapat siguro magkaroon ng tamang koordinasyon para yung data po tama [PSA data says differently… That is another area that we may have to ensure proper coordination so that the data is correct],” he said.

NEDA Director Frances Fatima Cabana said that the concerns were acknowledged and will be raised to the proper authorities in the agencies, but NEDA chief Balicasan earlier said that the call to cut rice tariffs was “not made lightly.”

He also said that the government understood concerns and apprehensions from farmers and are committed to extending their support through the transition until 2028.

“The goal of the NEDA Board in reducing the tariff rate of rice is to ensure that Filipinos have access to nutritious and affordable food, particularly rice, while managing inflation and sustaining our economic growth momentum… We are investing in infrastructure, promoting the adoption of modern technologies, improving market and financial access for local producers, and building resilience to climate change,” he said in a statement.

In the same meeting, Philippine Statistics Authority also said that the comments on data will be relayed to the concerned agencies. — BM, GMA Integrated News

Source : msn