An economist of the World Bank has urged the Philippine Government to remove the quantitative restriction (QR) on rice imports to control food price and reduce poverty in the country.

The InterAksyon website quoted Rogier van den Brink, a WB lead economist for the Philippines, as saying that the country cannot be self-sufficient in rice given the research and development, irrigation and extension work and marketing done on a regular basis.

He said this current QR system fosters corruption in the local rice policy, and the restriction on rice imports is creating uncertainty in the private sector, resulting in the rice price hike.

He suggested the Philippine Government remove the QR and just impose tariffs to protect local farmers, warning that should the QR policy still takes effect, it can lead to the price hike in rice – which is considered the main cause of increasing poverty in the country.

The WB economist called for a new policy that is capable of attracting foreign direct investment and bringing the price of food down.

However, the Philippine Minister of Socioeconomic Planning Arsenio Balisacan M. said the removal of the QR and tariff application are not easy at all due to commitments on the minimum access volumes (MAV) with the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

He said his Government is making efforts to protect local farmers and avoid harming poverty-stricken people.-VNA