House panels OK bill on cash assistance for farmers

(File photo)

MANILA – Two panels in the House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a measure authorizing the Department of Agriculture (DA) to use the excess rice tariff revenues under the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL) for direct cash assistance to farmers.

In a virtual hearing, the House Committee on Agriculture and Food and the Committee on Appropriations approved House Bill 8964, or the proposed Cash Assistance for Filipino Farmers Act.

Appropriations Committee chairperson Eric Go Yap, author of the bill, emphasized the urgency of intervening for farmers in light of the current state of declining palay prices and the crippling effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The DA shall be authorized to use the annual tariff revenues in excess of PHP10 billion directly remitted from the Bureau of Customs (BOC) for direct cash assistance to farmers cultivating two hectares of rice lands until 2024.

“This provision to our farmers shall provide them with immediate aid and assistance, most especially during these difficult times,” Yap said.

The bill directs the BOC to remit to the DA the said excess funds.

The BOC and the DA shall submit separate reports to Congress by yearend, through the House Committee on Agriculture, on the remittance of funds and the actual disbursement for the year, respectively.

Citing latest data, the BOC said it has collected PHP14.6 billion in revenues from January to November 2020 from the 2.25 million metric tons of rice imports during the 11-month period. (PNA)

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