Solon seeks P13-B emergency fund for rice farmers

MANILA A joint resolution seeking to allow PHP13 billion cash assistance to farmers has been filed at the Senate to address the continuous drop in palay prices due to the influx of imported rice brought about by the Rice Tariffication Law.

According to a statement on Friday, Senator Francis Pangilinan filed a still-unnumbered resolution to authorize the use of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) under the un-programmed funds of the 2019 budget, as well as the collected custom tariffs from imported rice, as a special emergency fund for direct cash transfers to rice farmers.

Pangilinan noted that there is still a remaining fund balance of PHP4 billion from the PHP10-billion RCEF, while a total of PHP9.19 billion has been collected as tariff revenues from rice importation since August 31.

Emergency ang kalagayan ng ating mga magpapalay at ng rice industry. At meron namang pera na pwede nang ipamahagi sa mga hirap na hirap nang mga magsasaka natin (Our rice farmers and the rice industry face an emergency situation. And we have the money that can be given to our suffering farmers),Pangilinan said.

Pangilinan said the farm-gate prices of palay have plummeted to as low as PHP7 to PHP10 per kilo in certain provinces in Central Luzon almost five months after the enactment of the Rice Tariffication law, noting that the industry and rice farmers have suffered a "huge" income loss of roughly around PHP60 billion.

He stressed the need for a transitional measure to cushion the law's impact, and to encourage rice farmers to continue farming.

"Without sufficient and immediate intervention from government, this generation of rice farmers, most of whom are old with an average of 58, might be pushed to abandon farming altogether," he said. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency