Monday, April 21, 2008

The (Short) Case for Price Controls on Rice

Terry Ridon: theyre confusing price controls of recent past with reasonable price controls, as though the answer to the crisis would decisively be price controls per se.

Terry Ridon: nonetheless, we have to state clearly that price controls, while effective, is not the magic bullet answer, but it shall always be a long-term shift in agricultural policy, where government conclusively directs the phase of development of the productive forces in Philippine agriculture.

Terry Ridon: the price control we speak of, is reasonable and policy-engaged, where determination of the true price of rice is not dependent on the mere say-so of rice traders but based on government-intervened research and comprehensive consultation with stakeholders, particularly the peasant and the consuming public.

Terry Ridon: stating these, we still believe that moderated price controls on rice, particularly for the consumption of lower-income classes are imperative in the face of continuing sharp increases in the price of rice. clearly, to allow the market itself to ultimately determine the price would cause greater harm than the alarmist chants of neoliberals of impending government collapse with price controls

Terry Ridon: by chanting their alarmist dispositions, the neoliberals fail to point one important fact in the collapse of price controls of years past - the failure of governments to implement deep-seated economic reforms, in general, and in agricultural policy, in particular.

Terry Ridon: lastly, among the big steps forward in struggling against the entire crisis would be:

1) a complete rechanneling of defense spending, PDAF to agriculture and basic social services, 2) a petition for debt relief to multi-lateral and bilateral funding agencies given the extraordinary situation the country and other states in the third world face, 3) the immediate passage of the genuine AR bill in replacement of the CARP, 4) a suspension of VAT on rice, oil and other foodstuffs without abolishing the need for rice quotas

Terry Ridon: in the final analysis, however, primary responsibility for this crisis shall always fall in the doorsteps of Malacanang, for continuously implementing a failed policy in agriculture, where the DA and the DAR themselves are complicit in the conversion of thousands of hectares of ricelands into cash crop areas and real estate properties, such as industrial parks, golf courses and subdivisions. lest we forget, instead of a full-concentration of efforts in averting the sharp rise in rice prices, the current administration prior to the full explosion of this crisis has been busy dipping its hands into multi-billion corruption scandals such as the ZTE Broadband and Cybereducation deals.

Terry Ridon: given these, while we sincerely believe that comprehensive policy reform is needed for the people to conclusively confront this crisis, we believe that it is not this government that shall make it so, as it seems to be more interested in receiving good media mileage of raids on unseen rice hoarders than actually confronting its failed policies head on. as such, the prospect of forcibly ousting this regime for its remains a viable option, adding to its already long list of crimes against the people in its seven years in power.

Terry Ridon: if we marched as a people against corruption these past few months, all the more must we rage against this government's ineptitude in confronting this crisis of much agricultural irony.

Terry Ridon: there was a time when rice was as abundant as water, as the soil from which it sprang. soon, it might be more expensive than the dollar exchange rate and the petrol that powers trucks and jeepneys.

Terry Ridon: and no, i will not eat kamote.

Terry Ridon: but i will oust this president for all of these.

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