Lobregat thanks Duterte for allowing traders to import rice from Malaysia Print
Thursday, 06 September 2018 16:42

by DEXTER YAP

Congressman Celso Lobregat expressed gratitude to President Rodrigo R. Duterte for giving the green light to rice traders to import small volume of rice from Malaysia to boost supply in some parts of Mindanao.

The rice traders, however, will be required to pay the corresponding import tariffs for the rice supplies intended for ZamBaSulTa (Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi) area, according to Lobregat.

Based on information gathered from the palace, President Duterte reached the decision on granting the request for additional rice importation for ZamBaSulTa during a mini-Cabinet meeting convened aboard the chartered flight to Israel after Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Manny Piñol met and discussed it with the president before his flight to said country.

“Basing on the decision of the President, we will be importing rice, if needed, and the private sector might be authorized to do the same also," Lobregat added.

The President said that those in the island provinces like Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Basilan, will also be allowed to directly import rice stocks from Malaysia, but they will have to pay duties and taxes to the government.

Lobregat said that the President’s decision authorizing the importation by the private sector is a welcome development to address the rice shortage in the city and the region in general.

Duterte announced that he will allow the small quantity of rice to enter from Malaysia. He will give permits to many traders to import so there will be sufficient supply of rice in the Zamboanga Peninsula, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi as soon as possible.

The government has allowed additional rice importation after price increases were reported in Zamboanga and nearby areas due to limited supply. Rice supply reportedly became scarce here in Zambasulta after intensified operations were launched against smugglers who long supplied the region with the staple.

Piñol recently proposed the creation of a rice trading center in Tawi-Tawi to help curb smuggling and generate extra revenues for the government, which was also supported by Congressman Lobregat.

Piñol noted that the government could earn between P1 billion and P2 billion every year from the tariff payments of rice imports passing through the trading center.

It would also ensure a steady supply of legally imported rice for the Zambasulta residents until such time the Department of Agriculture and the local government units have fully revived the rice farming industry in the area.-Dexter Yap