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NFA losses reduced to P9.6 billion after Rice Tariffication Law

The National Food Authority (NFA) over the weekend reported narrower losses in the past year following the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL), the Finance Department announced.

Data released by the DOF showed that the NFA’s net loss stood at P9.6 billion in 2021, down by 37.8% from the P15.44-billion net loss recorded in 2020.

The DOF’s Corporate Affairs Group said the net loss excludes the NFA’s P30.65-billion subsidy support from the national government in 2020, and P7.46 billion in 2021 representing the conversion of the national government’s subsidy advances.

The Rice Tariffication Law took effect on March 5, which effectively imposed 35% tariffs on imports from neighbors in Southeast Asia. It was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte in February of the same year.

The measure allows unlimited importation of rice 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 (RCEF), of which P5 billion will be allotted to farm mechanization and P3 billion to seedlings. The fund intends to ensure that rice imports won’t drown out the agriculture sector and rob farmers of their livelihood.

“The targeted use of its buffer stock as mandated by law meant lower procurement volumes, which can be funded solely out of subsidies from the national government,” Finance Undersecretary Antonette Tionko said in an emailed statement.

“Thus, it no longer needed to borrow funds to augment the financial resources needed for procurement activities,” she continued.

The measure has been met with criticism, with some saying that the RCEF is not enough to offset the losses incurred by farmers.

Several presidential candidates already expressed their views that the Rice Tariffication Law should be reviewed or repealed, such as Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, Manila City Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, labor leader Leody De Guzman, and Dr. Jose Montemayor. — DVM, GMA News