Bill on cheaper rice pushed

Bill on cheaper rice pushed

A CONGRESSMAN is not giving up on the Marcos administration’s campaign promise to drive down rice prices to P20 a kilo, filing a bill in September that not only seeks to make that happen but also ensure that rice farmers make a profit.

“If we want to attain [the price of] P20 per kilogram of rice, the [proposed] Cheaper Rice Act is the solution, which we should prioritize in passing,” Party-list Rep. Wilbert T. Lee said in a statement on Monday.

His House Bill No. 9020 even seeks to impose an additional P5 to P10 in the price of rice on sold by farmers to the Department of Agriculture to ensure profit. “If profit is ensured, farmers will increase their production and supply, which will help lower rice prices in the market,” Mr. Lee said in Filipino.

He added that rice profit would discourage farmers from selling their lands and may even pass on their farming practices to its next generations.

The bill also seeks the creation of the Rice Incentivization, Self-Sufficiency, and Enterprise (RISE) Program, which would develop a pricing structure for palay, a payout system for farmers, and a regular monitoring system for palay and rice prices.

It also proposes the creation of a price stabilization fund to shoulder the payouts and subsidies for farmers in buying and producing palay.

The committee expected to manage the fund will be headed by the Secretary of Trade and Industry and a “Rice Czar” to be appointed by the President.

During a House committee meeting in August last year, Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian said it “may be difficult” to bring rice prices down to P20 in the next two years, contrary to a campaign promise made by President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz