Gov't urged to review rules on rice imports
By Czeriza Valencia
The Philippine Star
Aug. 3, 2012
MANILA, Philippines - Non-government organization Rice Watch and Action Network (R1) is proposing that the government revise its rules on the importation of rice by the private sector to facilitate closer monitoring of the entry of rice into the country.
R1 lauded the ongoing Senate investigation on rice smuggling, saying it is a step towards eliminating the problem of rice smuggling into the country.
“We support whatever investigation the Senate is doing to curb the age-old problem of rice smuggling. More importantly, we hope that the Bureau of Customs’ intensified operation will result to the capture the so-called Big Fish in this modus and help the government pinpoint the root of the problem of this illegal rice trade,” said Aurora Regalado, R1 convenor in a statement.
During a Senate hearing on rice smuggling held last Wednesday, Customs officials revealed that 420,000 sacks of rice valued at P500 million were seized in Subic.
R1 is proposing that the government allow all rice imports into the country to be made under the National Food Authority (NFA).
“This will help the government easily monitor potential rice smuggling even from the ports and the government only needs to honestly enforce customs administration,” Regalado said.
The government has removed the NFA’s power as the sole rice importer in the country. Private rice importers were then allowed to participate in importation.
Private importers were given two importation windows: importation with payment of duties and other fees required by the Bureau of Customs or zero-tariff importation with payment of the service fee charged by the NFA for allowing the use of the agency’s tax-expenditure subsidy.
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