NFA Council approves government-to-private rice importation

MANILA-- The National Food Authority (NFA) Council has approved the importation of rice through government-to-private (G2P) scheme to augment the food agency's buffer stock for the lean months of July to September, a senior Palace official bared Tuesday.

In a press briefing in MalacaAang, Secretary to the Cabinet and concurrent NFA Council chair Leoncio Evasco said the decision to allow private suppliers from participating countries to participate in the bidding process will make the process more competitive, least corrupt and more transparent.

He said the Council decision moves to drop the usual practice of government-to-government (G2G) importation in favor of G2P was made Monday.

We have to make drastic changes in order to ensure a corrupt-free and competitive bidding process at the NFA. While the G2G is exempt from the Government Procurement Reform Act, G2P is not. Hence, instead of doing a G2G, the Council will push for a G2P to increase accountability and transparency, Evasco said.

However, he said that the actual volume to be imported under the G2P is still being determined by the National Food Security Committee (NFSC).

"The Council is still waiting for the recommendation of the NFSC on how much volume of rice importation should be activated from NFA's remaining 250,000 metric tons standby authority," he said.

The NFSC is set to meet on Thursday.

The Palace official said the NFA Council also approved the importation of 805,000 metric tons of rice under the minimum access volume (MAV).

The MAV refers to the volume of a specific agricultural product that is allowed to be imported with a lower tariff by a member country as a commitment of the Philippines under the provisions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade of the World Trade Organization.

The annual MAV importation is being shouldered by the private sector.

Evasco said the Council will impose restrictions on the MAV importation to ensure adequacy of supply and stability of rice at prices within the reach of low-income families.

The NFA Council has directed the NFA to amend the MAV guidelines to require participating traders to use 25 to 30 percent of their quota import 25 percent brokens rice. This way, we are assured that cheap rice is will be made available in the local market, he said.

"This policy shift is more consistent with the pro-poor policy of President Rodrigo Duterte," Evasco said.

The NFA Council is composed of Evasco and representatives of the NFA, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Development Bank of the Philippines, Land Bank of the Philippines, Department of Finance, Department of Trade and Industry and National Economic and Development Authority, was well as a representative from the farmer sector.

One of the inherent powers of the NFA Council is to establish rules and regulations governing the importation of rice.

Source: Philippines News Agency