NFA rice to be sold to traders through bidding
Officials of the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) said there would no longer be any subsidized rice in the market once the industry is liberalized, but assured consumers there would be ample supply of affordable rice.
In a briefing on Friday, Neda Assistant Secretary Mercedita Sombilla said the unimpeded entry of imported rice could cut retail prices in half following the passage of the Rice Import Liberalization Act.
This means a kilo of regular-milled rice currently being sold at an average of P41.07 a kilo would be sold at P20.50—lower than the price of NFA rice at P27 a kilo.
Sombilla gave this assurance to consumers in the wake of the crafting of the law’s implementing rules and regulations, which would determine whether the National Food Authority (NFA) would continue selling the cheapest rice variant currently in the market, among other concerns.
“(NFA) will no longer be retailing in the market. The scheme is to auction the stocks to the commercial sector which will be required to sell it at P27 a kilo,” she said.
This runs counter to earlier statements of Sen. Cynthia Villar and Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol that the NFA would continue selling subsidized rice.
Under the IRR draft, the grains agency may auction off its inventory to private entities in cases when its stocks will not be used for emergency purposes.
The scheme would enable NFA to replenish its stocks efficiently, and would give consumers the option to buy the rice variant at the same price.
“The absence of NFA-priced rice will no longer have an impact on the consumers since we can probably expect much lower prices with cheaper imports coming in,” said Sombilla. “NFA’s prices is subsidized, that’s why NFA incurred huge debts in the past.”
The law is set to be implemented in March 5.
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