Tighter watch on rice imported by NFA set to temper food inflation
In response to the over nine-year high inflation rate of 6.4 percent last month, the country’s economic managers on Wednesday approved “immediate” reforms to temper food prices, including tighter watch on rice imported by the state-run National Food Authority (NFA).
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Deputy Governor Diwa C. Guinigundo told a press conference that if this mix of immediate and long-term measures will be implemented this month, the headline inflation in August would already be the peak.
Among the joint recommendations of the Economic Development Cluster during the meeting led by Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia ,and Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol was forming a monitoring team for the surveillance of rice from ports to NFA warehouses and retail outlets.
Guinigundo noted that there were reports of diversion of rice from NFA warehouses to some other end users, hence end up as commercial rice instead of the NFA making them available in retail outlets.
The monitoring team will be led by the NFA, the Department of Trade and Industry, the National Bureau of Investigation, the Philippine National Police, and farmers’ groups.
Since it has police powers, it would be up to the NFA to slap sanctions or penalties on those found taking advantage of the rice supply, Guinigundo said.
The economic team also instructed to “immediately” release nationwide the 4.6 million sacks of rice already available in NFA warehouses.
“We also expect approximately two million sacks of rice previously contracted to be delivered before the end of September. In addition, the NFA Council authorized the importation of five million sacks that will be arriving over the next one and half months and another five million sacks will be imported early next year,” the economic managers said.
“To address the reported shortage in Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-tawi, 2.7 million sacks will be allocated to these areas. In addition, harvest has also started in many parts of the country, with the projected harvest for 2018 of 12.6 million metric tons of rice, the equivalent of 252 million sacks,“ they added. /kga
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