Duterte says he can hike rice tariffs if needed

President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte said he could order rice tariff increases to help local farmers cope with dropping staple grain prices.

“I can always order the higher tariffs if necessary. I’ll only balance it,” he said in an exclusive interview with ABS-CBN News ‘ Ted Failon.

Local rice growers have protested that the current tariff-based regime for staple grain imports has caused prices to fall, hurting their profits.

Last year, the government pushed for tariffs instead of import quotas under the Rice Tariff Law to lower prices as the staple rate forced inflation to nearly 10-year highs.

Duterte acknowledged that he was “aware” that the law on rice tariffs would create a “problem” among staple grain local producers, but emphasized that his main priority was to ensure that Filipinos were “still assured of rice.” “My main concern is that rice must be available at any time,” he said.

When Filipinos see a dwindling supply of rice, panic starts.

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