Philippines. Shortage of NFA rice raising prices

05.02.2018

The shortage of rice from the National Food Authority (NFA) is real and raising prices of the staple, Sen. Nancy Binay warned yesterday.

In a statement, the senator asked the inter-agency NFA Council to address its dwindling supply of the country’s primary food staple.

“It’s true there is rice in our markets, but the supply of NFA rice is fast dwindling,” Binay said in a statement. “Because of the lack of NFA rice, our countrymen are forced to buy expensive rice.”

Binay cited a report from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showing prices of regular and well-milled rice rising by P1 to P3 pesos per kilo in six regional centers including Kidapawan City, Naga City and the National Capital Region.

Although the NFA cannot control the prices of commercial rice, it sells rice at more affordable prices as part of its mandate to ensure food security through enough supply of affordable rice for Filipinos.

Currently, NFA sells rice at P27 per kilogram and P32 per kg, while commercial rice varieties of comparable quality are sold at P36 to P41 per kg.

Binay also asked the council why it chose to defer the importation of 250,000 metric tons (MT) of rice despite the NFA admitting its current rice buffer stock is good for only three days.

“The council should not rely on mere projections and instead be flexible and sensitive to the needs on the ground,” she said.

Binay noted the NFA recently admitted that its buffer stock of rice is only good for three days.

“What happened to our policy to have a 15-day buffer stock?” Binay asked.

The NFA is required to have at least 15-day buffer stock at any given time and 30-day buffer stock during lean season, which usually starts in July until September.

Binay reiterated her call on the NFA to bare all suppliers given import permits under the minimum access volume (MAV) scheme.

“This is in the interest of transparency and to prevent issues like conflict of interest and corruption,” she said.

Sen. Cynthia Villar, chair of the Senate committee on agriculture, earlier held a hearing on bills seeking to lift the quantitative restrictions on rice imports and the creation of rice fund for farmers.

The senator also said it is NFA’s duty to inform consumers not to worry about higher cost of rice even if pump prices have increased due to the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.

Villar said there is no reason for the prices of rice to spike because of the implementation of TRAIN.

“Doesn’t the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) have a price monitoring team? They should be active and stop unreasonable price increases,” Villar said.

She said fuel, which was hit by TRAIN, is only a small part of the rice production costs.

Villar warned it was possible that the new taxes were being used as an excuse by some traders to jack up rice prices.


philstar

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