The government started today the distribution of the PhP15,000-cash grant to qualified small rice retailers affected by the implementation of the mandated rice price ceilings nationwide.
The cash assistance program is part of the Rice Price Stabilization and Support Fund (RPSSF), which was created by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. through Executive Order No. 123 issued on August 15, 2023.
According to the Department of Agriculture (DA), the RPSSF aims to protect the welfare of both rice consumers and producers amid the rising cost of living and the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The RPSSF has a total budget of PhP10 billion, of which PhP5 billion is allocated for the cash grant to small rice retailers, PhP3 billion for the procurement of local palay from farmers, and PhP2 billion for the subsidy to rice millers and cooperatives.
The DA said that around 333,333 small rice retailers are expected to benefit from the cash grant, which will be distributed through the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) or other accredited financial service providers.
To qualify for the cash grant, the rice retailers must have a valid business permit, a certificate of registration from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), and a proof of compliance with the price ceilings set by the government.
The price ceilings, which took effect on September 1, 2023, are PhP38 per kilogram for regular-milled rice, PhP40 per kilogram for well-milled rice, and PhP52 per kilogram for premium rice.
The DA said that the price ceilings are necessary to prevent profiteering and hoarding by unscrupulous traders, and to ensure that rice is affordable and accessible to all Filipinos.
The DA also assured that there is enough supply of rice in the country, as the national inventory as of August 1, 2023 was equivalent to 93 days of consumption.
President Marcos Jr. lauded the implementation of the RPSSF and the cash grant program, saying that they are part of his administration’s efforts to achieve food security and economic stability in the country.
He also urged the public to support the local rice industry and to report any violations of the price ceilings to the DA or other concerned agencies.