Release of rice tarrif law’s IRR urged

A Bicolano congressman yesterday asked the 14 government agencies tasked to draft the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Rice Tariffication Act to work double-time and finish their task within the 45-day deadline set by the law to avoid the mistake committed by bureaucrats who had bungled the implementation of the Ease of Doing Business (EODB) Act.

Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte said that while one of the most important aspects of the Rice Tariffication Act -- the opening of the domestic rice market to private traders -- would already come into effect by March 5, other provisions of the law need to be threshed out through the IRR, including the need for the National Food Authority (NFA) to maintain a nationwide rice buffer stock, the imposition of special rice safeguards, and mechanisms to ensure the effective  implementation of programs under the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) for the benefit of the country’s palay growers.

Under Republic Act (RA) 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Act, 14 government agencies led by the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), after consultations with affected stakeholders,  are tasked to promulgate the IRR of the law 45 days from its effectivity.

“The swift crafting of the IRR for the Rice Tariffication Act will enable the government to carry out President Duterte’s overriding objective of signing this into law, which is to dramatically pull down the retail cost of rice and prevent a repeat of the elevated inflation rate last year,” said Villafuerte, a co-author of RA 11203. The NFA Council,  which convened last Feb. 18, set an initial deadline of completing the IRR and have it published in the Official Gazette by the third week of March, or well within the 45-day deadline set under the law.

Besides the DA, DBM and NEDA, the other government agencies involved in crafting the IRR include the Land Registration Authority (LRA), National Irrigation Administration (NIA), Land Bank of the Philippines (LandBank), Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice), Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech).