I essentially agree with the President’s imposition of a price ceiling for regular milled rice at P41/kilo and well-milled rice at P45/kilo, but clarification should be made on the price cap of imported rice, unless it would fall under the subject rice varieties.
However, the price ceilings must be accompanied by the following measures:
- Subsidy to farmers to maintain a viable farmgate price of palay. The subsidy is geared towards reducing the cost of production, from pre-planting, planting, harvesting, milling, transport, and trading of palay.
- The Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) under the Rice Tariffication Act or RA No. 11203 must be immediately and fully implemented for the benefit and welfare of farmers and their families and organizations.
- Government-to-government negotiations for the importation of rice must be undertaken in order to get the lowest cost of importation by authorized private importers.
- Rice retailers must be granted access to facilities at minimal interest rates and minimum collateral requirements to help them in the procurement of rice.
- The campaign against rice smuggling and cartelization must be fully intensified with the immediate apprehension, prosecution, and conviction, once warranted, against malefactors.
- The role of middlemen in the rice trade must be strictly limited and monitored.
EDCEL C. LAGMAN