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Recto in favor of RTL amendments

Finance Secretary Ralph Recto is backing the proposed amendments to the Rice Tariffication Law.

Finance Secretary Ralph Recto, the chief economic manager of the Marcos administration, is backing the proposed amendments to the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL), particularly allowing the National Food Authority (NFA) to buy and sell rice during emergencies.

In a chance interview with reporters, Recto said the Department of Finance (DOF) is currently studying the RTL amendments.

“We're looking at it right now… We do have a position. But so far, I think the RTL is working,” the Finance chief said.

“Okay. Maybe we can tweak it a bit to allow NFA [to buy and sell] for emergency purposes,” Recto said,

Last week, President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. said he was amenable to certifying the proposed amendments to the RTL as urgent as rice prices increased due to the competition of traders.

On Monday, the House Agriculture and Food Committee released a substitute bill amending the RTL.

The proposed bill in the House authorizes the NFA to buy and sell rice in emergency cases and increases farmers' productivity aid to P15 billion.

Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. earlier said that there was no intention to revive the powers of the NFA amid moves to amend the RTL. 

Republic Act No. 11203 or the RTL, which took effect on March 5, 2019, replaced the quantitative restrictions on imported rice with tariffs of 35% to 40% and established the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) funded by the tariff revenues.

The RTL also limited the function of the NFA as a rice buffer stocking agency, ensuring emergency rice stocks exclusively procured from local palay growers.

Recto said that with tweaking the RTL, “we will make sure that the debts of NFA do not balloon.” —VAL, GMA Integrated News

Tags: Ralph Recto, rtl