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Private traders urged to import more rice

Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - April 16, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The private sector must continue to buy rice from the world market to further boost the inventory of the country’s main staple amid the coronavirus disease pandemic.

During the Laging Handa virtual briefing Wednesday, the National Food Authority said private importers should continue bringing in rice.

Under the rice tariffication law, NFA’s role has been limited to maintaining buffer stock through local procurement.

“Commercial rice traders should continue their importation and sell those rice at reasonable markup prices,” NFA administrator Judy Dansal said.

The NFA chief maintained that the grains agency could sustain the rice needs of local government units amid the huge volume of stockpile.

The agency’s market participation has increased significantly to 17 percent from the average 10 percent due to large withdrawals from LGUs and other government agencies.

The government-subsidized rice is the cheapest in the market at P27 per kilo.

Meanwhile, the Action for Economic Reforms has opposed the government’s move to spend P8 billion to import an additional 300,000 metric tons of rice to boost the country’s rice inventory.

The budget will be given to the Department of Trade and Industry and the Philippine International Trading Corp. for the purchase via government-to-government scheme.

AER said the P8 billion would be better spent toward increasing farmers’ productivity and safeguarding their welfare given the ongoing pandemic.

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