DA urged to resume issuance of rice import permits
The Philippine Rice Industry Stakeholders’ Movement (PRISM) has called on the DA-Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) to resume the issuance of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearance (SPSIC) for rice.
Edd Gumban/File
DA urged to resume issuance of rice import permits
Louisse Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - November 23, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture is urged to resume the issuance of rice import permits so as not to disrupt the supply of Filipinos’ main staple after the consecutive typhoons wrought damage in the farm sector.

The Philippine Rice Industry Stakeholders’ Movement (PRISM) has called on the DA-Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) to resume the  issuance of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearance (SPSIC) for rice.

“Further delay may result in adverse implications due to late timing of approval and releases of the said SPSIC that is meant to augment the household and industry stocks,” PRISM said.

Two months ago, the DA appealed to rice importers to manage and temporarily halt their SPSIC application to give way to harvest season and not worsen the drop in palay (unhusked rice) prices.

“As an expression of good faith, our importer-members have yielded to the request, albeit unwritten. We were informed that the issuance of the SPSIC will most likely resume on Nov. 15,” the group said.

PRISM said that it has been constantly inquiring with the BPI as to when the issuance would resume.

In a text message to The STAR, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said the resumption of SPSIC issuance is still “under discussion.”

The Rice Tariffication Law basically liberalized the rice sector, which means that the issuance of SPSIC is ministerial on the part of the BPI.

The law states that “failure on the part of the BPI to release the SPSIC without informing the rice importer of any error, deficiency, omission, or additional documentary requirement shall mean automatic approval of the SPSIC applied for within seven days after submission of the complete requirements.”

“Our apprehension is that the delay in the resumption of the issuance of SPSIC could be detrimental to the country’s food security; the world market price of rice is expected to continue to rise approaching December, while ports become extremely congested due to successive holidays beginning December to February, here and abroad,” PRISM argued.

With the recent declaration of state of calamity in Luzon and the price freeze in commodities, PRISM is worried that stakeholders would suffer from losses due to high cost of sales.

“We request the government to recognize the willingness of the private sector of the whole rice value chain to work together to provide a normal flow of supply. This teamwork will ensure the availability of quality and affordable rice in the market especially during the holiday season,” the group said.

Latest data from the DA showed that Typhoons Quinta, Rolly and Ulysses have wrought damage amounting to P12.3 billion in less than a month.

For rice, the typhoons managed to wipe out eight days of equivalent consumption, which brings total inventory to about 82 days by January 2021.

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
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