President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is eyeing to provide rice allowance for government workers, citing the need to ease their daily expenses amid the rising prices of basic goods.

“I’m going to initiate, at least for the government workers, the rice allowance. Part of the sweldo, ang pagbayad is in rice para nakakatiyak tayo (Part of their salary is giving of rice so we can ensure that) everybody, every family will have rice,” Marcos said in an interview with host Toni Gonzaga aired on Tuesday.

Marcos, who also heads the Department of Agriculture, said the rice that will be distributed will be bought by the government as this is cheaper than what is sold at market prices.

He said this initiative will also benefit rice producers due to the expected increase in demand for rice.

“What’s going to happen is magkakaroon ng demand kasi bibili ng marami yung gobyerno e (there will be a demand because the government is going to buy in bulk) and then we will talk to other corporations. Marami naman sa dun malalaking korporasyon mayroon na silang rice allowance e (There are a lot of corporations that give rice allowance). So we will institutionalize it. So at the very least, mayroon tayong ganun (we have that),” he added.

Marcos said the government must change how the poor are living at the subsistence level or the condition of just having enough food or money to stay alive.

“It should not be at a subsistence level, they should not be spending 60, 70, 80 percent of their income on food. That’s far, far too much,” he said.

“They have nothing left for anything else. They cannot send their children to school, they cannot pay for electricity, for water. All of these things they need to pay for. So that’s really the scope of the problem and that’s the way I see it,” he added.

P20 per kilo rice
Meanwhile, Marcos maintained that his goal of slashing rice prices to as low as PHP20 per kilo is “possible” but admitted that it may take some time.

“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,” he said.

Should the government succeed in fixing the country’s value chain, Marcos expressed hope that bringing rice prices down to PHP20 per kilo can be done in three years.

“Pag mabuo natin yung value chain (If we fix the value chain), we will make savings at every step…and then the world market will slowly be better, we might just make it to PHP20. But it’s a long road there. It’s not gonna be easy,” he said.

Marcos also underscored the important role of agriculture in “transforming” instead of recovering the economy.

“I don’t want the economy to recover to what it was in 2019. I want to transform the economy to be ready for the shocks, the difficulties that we will face from 2022,” he added. (PNA)

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