Filtered By: Money

Marcos wants agri sector to be competitive before ratifying RCEP

President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Thursday expressed his reservations on the ratification of the mega trade deal Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), in which the Philippines is a signatory.

At a press briefing, Marcos said he wants to look at how the RCEP will impact the country’s agriculture sector.

“I do not know if our agriculture sector is sufficiently robust to take on the competition that the opening of the markets will cause, [by the] RCEP,” he said.

“So, let’s have a look at it again and make sure na hindi naman malulugi ang ating agri sector ‘pagka ni-ratify na natin ‘yan dapat handa na ‘yung sistema natin na makipag-compete,” he added.

The RCEP, a trade accord that involves the 10-member ASEAN along with China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand, was approved by the Palace in September last year and brought to the Senate for concurrence.

Treaties or international agreements entered into by the government require Senate concurrence.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) earlier said it will exhaust all its efforts to get the Senate’s thumbs up on the RCEP when the Congress resumes session late this month. 

Marcos said the Philippines’ farm sector should be in a competitive position before the country enters into another trade agreement.

“Dahil kung hindi makapag-compete masasapawan sila. Mawawala ‘yung mga local and panay na lang ang import natin. We don’t want that,” he said.

“Beef up the agriculture sector, we want to have sufficient food supply for the Philippines in case of any crisis. We should really learn our lesson from the pandemic. ‘Wag natin pababayaan ‘yan dahil ‘pag may dumating na crisis na ganyan ay ramdam na ramdam ng tao na kulang ang pagkain [We should not lose sight of it because if a crisis arrives, the people will really feel the effects of food scarcity],” he added.

Marcos reiterated that the government should look at what will be the RCEP’s effect on the economy before it gets ratified.

“Pagaralan natin mabuti [We should study it carefully] that if we ratify it now what will be the effect on the farming community, our farmers especially they need protection and how will it impact what our plans are to create a value chain of agriculture,” he said.

“Pagaralin natin mabuti ‘pag kaya ng ating magsasaka at suportahan natin ng gobyerno, kaya na sila mag -compete, iratify natin ‘yan [We should study it carefully and let us support our government. If we can compete, then let's ratify it],” he said.

Oil excise tax

On the issue of suspending the collection of excise tax on petroleum products, Marcos reiterated his earlier stance that it should be carefully studied, especially how it will  impact the government’s fiscal position.

“In terms of [suspending] oil excise tax, we have to look at that very carefully if there is a commensurate return to somehow deferring the excise. Hirap ang pondo sa gobyerno ngayon [The government is having a difficulty in sourcing funds]. The government needs money,” he said.

“Ano ‘yung magiging effect. Kung talagang worth it ba na mawala ‘yung pondo o income ng gobyerno,” he added.

In March, Marcos appeared to have changed his mind about the proposed suspension of the excise tax on petroleum products, preferring instead to push for oil subsidies and the reactivation of the Oil Price Stabilization Fund

Marcos deviated from the stand earlier taken by him and his running mate, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, that the government should “suspend excise tax on fuel imports as a form of subsidy for oil companies.”

At the news briefing, Marcos said “there are other ways to handle the increase and disturbances that we are having in terms of the petroleum products.”

“We can support those areas na tinamaan kaagad ng pagtaas ng presyo ng langis. Number one, there is transport. It is important because transport is going to be critical in the resurgence of the economy,” he said.

He said that the issue of whether or not excise taxes on oil will be suspended “will be among the areas under intense study in the first few weeks because we really have to see our fiscal policy.”

He added that it should be analyzed if suspending the collection of excise taxes on oil will have “a commensurate advantage, perhaps in another part of the economy.”

The Department of Budget and Management earlier said the Philippines will lose P117 billion in revenues, representing 0.5% of the country's gross domestic product, if the government suspends the collection of excise tax— RSJ, GMA News