Imports to address inflation? Support farmers instead – Bam Aquino

Ralf Rivas
Imports to address inflation? Support farmers instead – Bam Aquino
Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV warns rice tariffication might be another 'knee-jerk reaction' to bring down inflation

MANILA, Philippines – Senate ways and means committee vice chairperson Paolo Benigno Aquino IV warned that rice tariffication and proposals to lower tariffs on meat and fish would hurt local farmers. 

“We should be careful about tariffication, baka knee-jerk reaction na naman ito (this might be another knee-jerk reaction) and it might have adverse effects [on] local farmers,” Aquino said during the 3rd public hearing on the inflationary effects of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.

Aquino said the government should buy rice from local farmers instead of relying on imports to lower rice prices.

To do so, Aquino said the Department of Agriculture (DA) should help local rice farmers bring down their production cost to lower their selling price.

The senator also said fishermen should be provided with better feeds for higher yields.

Agriculture Undersecretary Segfredo Serrano said feeds account for over 50% of the production cost of fish. 

Fuel prices also take a big chunk of a fisherman’s budget, which is why Aquino is also pushing for the suspension of excise taxes on diesel and gasoline.

Meanwhile, the DA and Department of Finance (DOF) both said lowering tariffs on meat and fish would have little effect on inflation.

“There would be some incremental impact, but to what extent, that is an empirical question,” Finance Assistant Secretary Tony Lambino said.

“Meat and fish tariffs are already very low, so I don’t think there would be an effect,” Serrano said.

Senator Cynthia Villar filed the Senate bill on rice tariffication, on the condition that there would be P10 billion in subsidies for farmers to go along with it.

Reports previously stated that Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo proposed the lowering of tariffs on meat and fish, but she has since denied this. – Rappler.com

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Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.