MANILA – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has reported collections amounting to PHP2.04 billion in tariffs from rice imports in January, representing a 58-percent increase over the PHP1.29 billion collected during the same period last year amid a further improvement in the bureau’s import valuation system.
Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero said preliminary data show that the amount collected in January 2021 were from imports of 287,957 metric tons (MT) of rice, up by 29 percent from the 223,278 MT brought into the country last year.
Guerrero’s report to Secretary Carlos Dominguez III during a recent Department of Finance (DOF) Executive Committee (Execom) meeting was based on customs data as of Feb. 4, 2021.
Based on the BOC’s electronic-to-mobile (e2M) system, Guerrero said data also show that year-on-year, the average valuation of rice imports improved by 11.5 percent in January 2021.
In January 2020, the average value of rice imports was PHP18,177 per MT, which increased to PHP20,262 per MT in January this year.
Dominguez earlier directed the BOC to check against private traders for possible undervaluation of their rice imports.
Improvements made by the BOC to help ensure the proper classification, quantity, and weight of rice stocks brought into the country under the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) led to the increase in the average value of imported rice which, in turn, meant higher revenues for the government from the duties collected from these imports.
All import duties collected from rice imports under the RTL go to the annual PHP10-billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF).
The RCEF is used to finance programs that will sharpen the competitiveness of palay growers by providing them access to farm machinery and equipment, high-yield seeds, cheap credit, and skills training programs on farm mechanization and modern farming techniques.
Annual tariff revenues from rice imports in excess of PHP10 billion shall be earmarked by the Congress —and included in the national budget of the following year— for financial assistance to palay farmers, titling of agricultural lands, an expanded crop insurance program on rice, and crop diversification. (PNA)