MANILA - Rice may cost as low as P25 per kilo once imports start arriving in markets, an official of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said Tuesday.
NEDA undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon allayed concerns that poor people may no longer have access to cheap rice once the National Food Authority stops selling subsidized rice priced at P27 to the public.
The NFA is supposed to stop selling subsidized rice in adherence to the Rice Industry Modernization Act, which takes effect Tuesday, March 5.
Edillon, however, said that imported rice will push prices lower than the NFA's selling price.
"Pwedeng maging mas mura pa," Edillon said.
(It may get even cheaper.)
She said the landed cost of cheap rice from Vietnam is currently around P18 per kilo.
Adding the 35 percent tariff to this would push the cost of imported rice to P24.30.
Factoring in traders' profits would put rice prices at around P25 to P26, assuming that there is no collusion among traders, said Edillon.
"Ang importante lang dito ay marami ang magko-compete sa merkado. Dapat talaga walang maging monopolya," said Edillon.
(What's important here is that there will be many competitors in the market. We should not have a monopoly.)
The NEDA official also assured that there would be competition in the market as there are already a number of players interested in the rice trade.
She added that the Philippine Competition Commission can also come in if there are signs that the rice market is not seeing competition.
Edillon also said that farmers will also benefit from the new law as the tariffs collected will go used to modernize the rice industry through the Rice Competitiveness Enhance Fund.
Farmers groups have called for the scrapping of the Rice Industry Modernization law, saying cheap imported rice will drive local rice farmers out of business.