Philippines eyes rice allowance for government workers

·Senior Editor
·2 min read
A man holds up a handful of rice
The Marcos administration is considering a rice allowance for government workers as it struggles to lower the cost of the staple product.

The Marcos administration may give a rice allowance to government workers while it works to lower the price of the basic commodity, said President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

In an interview aired on ALLTV last Tuesday (September 5), President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. stressed again that ensuring access to affordable food is one of the priorities of his administration, and that Filipinos should not be spending "60, 70, 80 percent of their income" on food.

He also noted that many huge corporations have been providing rice allowances to their employees. "So we will institutionalize it. So at the very least, we should have that. This is life and death and the people are living very close to the subsistence level. And we have to pull ourselves out of that. They should not be at the subsistence level."

The president, who is also also the agriculture secretary, added that authorities will need to construct the value chain and to post savings to attain the objective of bringing down the price of rice to P20 a kilo, one of his campaign promises.

"There’s a way to do it but it will take a while. We have to return NFA (National Food Authority) to its old function, not so much importation but really the buying. And then even – even actually now we can already do it but it’s a little short-term. We sell the buffer stock that they have in NFA. We can sell it at P20. But that’s not really realistic. We have to bring the actual price down.”

Expressing hopes that the goal would be attained in 2-3 years, the President added, "And then the world market will slowly be better, we might just make it to P20. But it’s a long road there. It’s not (going to) be easy."

In June, Agriculture Undersecretary Fermin Adriano warned that rice prices may increase by as much as P6 per kilogram by the end of the year, while the rising cost of production could in turn dissuade farmers from planting the staple.

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