Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Sunday welcomed the signing of the Rice Tariffication Act which aims to remove the quantitative restrictions on rice and imposing a 35-percent tariff on imports from the country's neighbors in Southeast Asia.
"I am happy that President [Rodrigo] Duterte has signed into law the Rice Tariffication Act. It will further help in easing the inflation which has hit the poor the most," Arroyo said in a statement.
"Now we can focus on its proper implementation so that everyone can and should benefit from the law," she added.
Under the law, unlimited importation of rice is allowed as long as private sector traders secure a phytosanitary permit from the Bureau of Plant Industry and pay the 35-percent tariff for shipments from neighbors in Southeast Asia.
The law earmarks P10 billion for the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund, of which P5 billion will be allotted to farm mechanization and P3 billion to seedlings.
The fund also intends to ensure that rice imports will not drown out the agriculture sector and rob farmers of their livelihood.
Arroyo believes that improving the agriculture sector in the country would help in addressing economic problems such as inflation.
She has also called for a P20-billion increase in the budget of the Department of Agriculture to address the consistently high inflation rate.
"Isang dahilan kung bakit nagmamahalan ang mga presyo ng pagkain mismo ay dahil nagkukulang na ang ating produksyon," Arroyo said in an earlier interview.
"So talagang ang masasabi ko, kung gusto talaga natin ng pangmatagalang solusyon sa problema ng inflation, ayusin natin ang agrikultura," she added. —Erwin Colcol/KG, GMA News