NEDA supports stronger NFA role

Louella Desiderio - The Philippine Star
NEDA supports stronger NFA role
Photo shows workers loading sacks of NFA rice.
STAR / File

May import rice only during emergency situations

MANILA, Philippines — The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) is supporting a stronger role for the National Food Authority (NFA) in buffer stocking by being allowed to import rice during emergency situations.

“We are in favor of the strengthening of NFA’s role in buffer stocking for emergency purposes,” NEDA Secretary Arsenio Balisacan told reporters on the sidelines of the BusinessWorld Economic Forum yesterday.

Under the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL), he said the NFA’s role has been limited to buffer stocking during emergency situations.

“So if there’s drought, calamities, typhoons, destructions, that’s when it comes in,” he said.

He said the RTL also requires the NFA to secure rice for buffer stocking only from local farmers.

“In principle, NFA should be able to secure its buffer stocking from the market, from importation,” he said.

He said the NFA does not need to import rice directly, but may source rice for buffer stocking from importers.

“To require that they should only get from farmers, I think it’s not right, implicitly,” he said.

But in terms of expanding the buffer stocking of NFA to include the old price stabilization, he said: “I don’t think we want to go there.”

He said reforms were made in the rice industry to address inefficiencies and the very costly way of stabilizing the market.

“In the end, you don’t achieve the objective of stabilizing prices. So yes, we have been there. And we don’t want to go back to a regime that has been shown to not work,” he said.

Last Tuesday, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading House Bill 10381, which seeks to amend the RTL.

The proposed measure seeks to restore the NFA’s function of selling cheaper rice to the market to help stabilize the price and address supply issues of rice during emergencies.

Under the bill, the NFA may import rice as a last resort, when there are no available local stocks.

Earlier, the Foundation for Economic Freedom expressed opposition to the proposal to bring back the power of the NFA to import and sell rice to consumers citing this would reverse gains from the reforms in the RTL.

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