NFA gets OK to import 250,000 MT of rice via government-to-private sector scheme


The interagency National Food Authority Council (NFAC) has approved the recommendation of the National Food Security Committee (NFSC) to allow the NFA to import 250,000 metric tons (MT) of rice, according to an official of the food agency.

NFA Spokesman Marietta Ablaza told the BusinessMirror that the NFAC approved the NFSC’s recommendation to import the volume via the  government-to-private sector (G2P) scheme.

However, Ablaza said the NFAC has yet to approve the terms of reference (TOR) for the bidding.

“The NFAC has allowed the NFA to import 250,000 MT of rice through open tender. The import committee will still meet for the approval of the terms of reference of the bidding,” Ablaza said in an interview. “After the meeting, the TOR will still be presented to the NFAC for approval, which could be done through a referendum to fast-track the process,” she added.

Ablaza said the TOR will be published only after the NFAC has given the green light for it.

On May 18 the NFSC recommended the importation of 250,000 MT of rice following the pronouncement made by Cabinet Secretary Leoncio B. Evasco Jr., who also chairs the NFAC, that the council has decided to allow the NFA to import rice via the G2P scheme.

Based on an assessment by the NFSC of the local harvest and supply situation, the government imports only the shortfall in local harvest for buffer stocking purposes. The NFA’s importation of 250,000 MT of rice through the G2P scheme is covered by Republic Act 9184, or the Government Procurement Reform Act, which provides that the lowest bidder would be named as supplier.

Evasco said the shift to G2P from government-to-government will “ensure a corrupt-free and competitive bidding process at the NFA.” As of May 20, Ablaza said the rice stockpile of the NFA is enough to fill the country’s requirement for seven days.

Based on the BusinessMirror’s computation, the NFA needs to import at least 752,560 MT of rice to meet its Legislative-Executive Development  Advisory Council (Ledac)-mandated stock requirement of 30 days at the onset of the lean months. Thenational daily rice requirement is pegged at  32,720 MT.

Ablaza also said the  NFA imports committee is set to finalize and approve the guidelines for the importation of 805,000 MT of rice by private traders under the 2017 minimum access volume (MAV) scheme of the World Trade Organization.

The MAV guidelines will also be approved by the NFAC before its publication, Ablaza added.  Earlier Evasco said the NFAC directed the NFA management to amend the MAV guidelines to require participating traders to allocate 30 percent of their quota for the cheaper 25 percent brokens rice. He said this will ensure that cheap rice will be readily available and is “consistent with the President’s pro-poor policy”.

The NFA imports rice to augment its buffer stock during the lean months of July to September, when palay harvest significantly goes down due to bad weather.


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