NFA allows private traders to import rice

16.05.2017

Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr. announced Tuesday that the private traders are now allowed to import rice to increase the buffer stock of the National Food Authority (NFA) for the lean months of July to September. Evasco said the interagency NFA Council (NFAC) has approved the importation of rice through government-to-private (G2P) importation scheme as it is "more competitive, least corrupt, and transparent" than the current government-to-government (G2G) scheme.

"The NFA will also shift from government-to-government importation to government-to-private importation, a move that is more competitive, least corrupt and transparent," Evasco, chair of NFAC, told reporters. There have been an apparent spat between Evasco and NFA administrator Jason Aquino over conflicting policies on rice importation. Aquino bats for G2G importation while Evasco wants it to be done through private rice traders. Evasco lamented that the G2G scheme to import rice has been used for corrupt activities. "Unfortunately, this G2G has been abused.

This has been used for corrupt practices because there is no bidding involved here," the Cabinet chair said. Evasco said G2G importation can be done in the future but G2P is much needed right now to rid the NFA from corruption. He said private suppliers from participating countries may now be allowed to join the bidding, as provided by the Government Procurement Reform Act, instead of limiting the bidders to government counterparts. "We have to make drastic changes in order to ensure a corrupt-free and competitive bidding process at the NFA. Hence, instead of doing G2G, the council will push for a G2P to increase accountability and transparency. While the G2G is exempt from the Government Procurement Reform Act, the G2P is not," Evasco said. Evasco said the NFAC is still awaiting the recommendation of the National Food Security (NFSC) on how much volume of rice importation should be activated from NFA's remaining 250,000 metric tons stand by authority. He said the NFSC will meet on Thursday to discuss the matter.

The NFA, upon the order of the Legislative-Executive Advisory Council, is mandated to maintain a rice buffer stock good to last for 15 days at any given time and for 30 days at the onset of the lean months, or a period of low or zero harvest. The country's daily consumption rate requirement is now at 32,720 metric tons or 654,600 bags. Evasco said the NFAC also approved the importation of 805,000 metric tons Minimum Access Volume (MAV) of rice this year.

MAV refers to the volume of commodities allowed to be imported by a member country, as a commitment to the World Trade Organization. He added that the council likewise directed the NFA management to amend the MAV guidelines to require participating traders to import 25 percent broken rice from their 25 percent to 30 percent quota. "This will insure adequacy of supply and stability of consumer prices at levels within the reach of low-income families," Evasco said.


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