According to the Bureau of Customs, inbound shipments of rice remain unaffected by the global shortage of the commodity, allowing a steady collection of rice tariffs that would be used to fund projects meant to boost local production of rice.
Customs Assistant Commissioner Vincent Philip Maronilla said to reporters during a tax symposium hosted by SGV & Co., “We’re seeing the same volume. There is a supply. By our records, importations are steady, so we find no concrete reason to conclude that, let’s say, other factors globally are affecting supplies here in the country.”
Customs collected 16.81 billion PHP from rice tariffs in January-August, up to 6% year-on-year, according to government data. The increase happened despite the eight-month import volume falling 15% compared to last year’s 2.257 million metric tons (MT) as rice prices rose.
The amount collected has already exceeded the 10 billion PHP mandated to be allocated to the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) under the Rice Tariffication Law for projects targeted at improving local rice production.
Rice imports are forecasted to hit 3.1 million this year. If realized, the amount will be lower than the 3.8 million MT in 2022. From January to October, the Philippines imported 2.8 million MT of rice to fill in the supply gaps in the country. However, local prices soared to a 14-year high in September despite the imports and a price cap placed on rice for a month, stoking headline inflation to a four-month of 6.1% during that month.
In recent months, prices of rice have been turbulent due to extreme weather conditions and restrictions on rice exports from India which is a major global rice exporter, pushing up rice prices worldwide. In 2022, the Philippines received 83% of its total rice imports from Vietnam.
According to Maronilla, the Customs is now looking into issues of rice hoarding and smuggling to improve domestic supply.