Strengthened surveillance of rice imports sought


FINANCE SECRETARY Carlos G. Dominguez III ordered the Customs Office (BoC) to monitor rice imports more closely after the government temporarily reduced tariff rates.

In a statement released on Monday, Dominguez said the country could experience an increase in imports from other countries which beneFithe temporary flat rate of 35% in an attempt to avoid higher tax rates.

As the prices of rice from countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region have increased, Dominguez said there may be a shift towards imports of rice from other countries, such as India.

“I think there will be a shift in imports of Thai and Vietnamese rice, and Burmese (Myanmar) rice, to rice from other countries where the value is much lower. Keep an eye on that, ”Dominguez told Customs Chief Rey Leonard B. Guerrero.

Guerrero said the BoC is examining the gap observed in some rice imports from Vietnam, where the bulk of shipments were reported at values ​​below prevailing market prices.

“We have found that many of these imports are subject to a provisional assessment, so we are looking at the payments,” he said.

In May, the average value of rice imports, mainly from Vietnam, fell 12.7% to P19,312 per metric ton (MT) from P22,119 per MT in the same month last year, noted M Guerrero. This figure was also lower than the average of 21,066 P per MT recorded in April and 22,119 P per MT in March.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte issued Executive Decree No. 135 on May 15, reducing most-favored nation tariff rates for rice to 35%, from 40% for quota volumes and 50% for out-of-quota volumes. quota for one year. The move aims to boost local rice supply and control rising inflation.

The BoC collected 5.67 billion pesos in tariffs on rice from January to April, 3.7% more than the 5.46 billion pesos it generated in the same period last year .

Customs revenue from rice imports increased even as the volume of shipments fell 9.2% to 804,360 MT. Mr Guerrero attributed this to the bureau’s best assessment, with the average value of rice imports increasing by 14% to reach P21,096 in the Fithe first four months of the year compared to P 18,508 per MT a year ago.

As a reminder, the BoC revealed in September 2020 that the government had lost 1.42 billion pesos in revenue due to under-reporting by sevmany importers to avoid tariffs.

For Raul Q. Montemayor, national director of the Federation of Free Farmers (FFF), the BoC has been very slow to fill in the gaps in its assessment and classification of rice imports.

Mr Montemayor said the office had not yet posted benchmark rates for rice shipments from China, and some from India, Pakistan and Myanmar.

“Without a benchmark price, they won’t be able to determine which shipments are dumped or not. I don’t see why the DoF has to issue a special reminder to BoC just because the tariffff the tariffs have been set at a uniform rate, ”he said in a Viber message on Monday.

“In fact, it should make BoC’s job easier. And the risk of undervaluation and misclassification will always exist, whether tariff rates are changed or stay the same, ”he added.

The FFF had previously criticized the government’s decision to lower tariff rates for the staple food, citing the policy’s lack of basic policy and supply of rice to the local market.

“We believe this will not lead to lower prices for consumers, since importers will only pocket the tariff savings. At the same time, (it) could threaten to lower rice prices to the detriment of rice farmers, ”Montemayor said. – Beatrice M. Laforga

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