NFA Council OKs add’l rice imports
The policy-making body of the National Food Authority (NFA) has approved the additional importation of rice this year as rice prices continue to spike.
Following a meeting on Tuesday, an official from the NFA said its council had given the go-ahead to purchase 250,000 metric tons (MT) of rice this year under an open tender scheme.
Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco earlier described open tender as “more competitive, least corrupt and transparent.” Under it, private suppliers are allowed to participate in the bidding and would be covered by the procurement law.
This is in contrast to a government-to-government procurement where there is no bidding, although it is considered the fastest way to import rice.
In total, the agency’s rice imports for this year will reach 750,000 MT. This already includes the half a million ton of imports approved earlier this year. There is also the 133,500 MT of rice approved last week to address the rice shortage in the Zambasulta (Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi) region under the private sector.
NFA administrator Jason Aquino, who heads the agency’s management body, originally asked to import 500,000 MT of rice, but the council decided to approve only half of the volume with the remaining 250,000 MT on “standby for next year.”
NFA spokesperson Rex Estoperez said the only way for the grains agency to affect rice prices was by flooding the market with affordable rice—something that the NFA had failed to do given the delays in its importation schedules and shipments.
The subsidized rice—priced at P27 and P32 a kilo depending on the variant—is considered the only reprieve for poor Filipino consumers from the current prices of commercial rice, which have reached an average all-time high of P43 a kilo.
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