MANILA - The continued deflation in rice prices for the last 5 months proves that the recently implemented rice tariffication law, which replaced import quotas with tax, helped ease inflation, an official said Friday.
The consumer price index rose 0.9 percent in September, government data showed. Rice inflation settled at -8.9 percent, the lowest since 1995.
"We see the rice tariffication law continuing to help pull down overall inflation in the near term as it continues to help improve rice stock inventory of the country," Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said in a statement.
Access to cheaper rice is "good for Filipino consumers," he said.
Rice stock rose by 40.3 percent in August due to higher importation of rice, the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) said.
Farmers, however, said importation resulted in significant reduction in prices of rough rice or palay, with some claiming that their harvest was sold for as low as P7 per kilo.
Pernia said the government should "fast-track and prioritize" programs meant to protect farmers against the effects of the law.
The rice tariffication law mandated the creation of the Rice Competitive Enhancement Fund worth P10 billion to improve the productivity and "profitability" of local farmers.