Hontiveros claims NFA 'tara' system worsened rice supply problem

Hontiveros claims NFA 'tara' system worsened rice supply problem
Sen. Risa Hontiveros claimed that the "tara" is being paid by importers to the NFA to get a certificate of eligibility.
Office of Sen. Risa Hontiveros, File

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Risa Hontiveros claimed a "tara" system in rice imports has worsened rice supply constraints and no less than former National Food Authority Administrator Jason Aquino benefited from it.

"Mr. President, paano kumikita ang administrator dito? Simple. Ang kalakarang tara per bag ay between P100-150. P100 kung kaibigan ka. P150 kung di kayo masyadong close," Hontiveros said in a privilege speech delivered on Monday.

She claimed that the "tara" is being paid by importers to the NFA to get a certificate of eligibility to import rice under the minimum access volume or MAV program, where the private sector is assigned a limited supply of rice it can import.

The MAV is part of the Philippines' obligation to the World Trade Organization, which allows the country to limit entry of rice imports to protect local farmers and their produce from competing with cheaper grains abroad.

The Duterte administration wants to remove the rice import cap to allow free entry of rice and solve the rice supply problem, which saw rice prices soaring in recent months.

The cap will be replaced with a system that slaps tariffs on imported rice, proceeds from which will be used to improve local farm productivity. The bill that would impose these tariffs remain pending at the Senate.

According to Hontiveros, the "tara" system on rice means corruption remains under the Duterte government despite President Rodrigo Duterte's vow to eradicate the illicit practice.

"Corruption is endemic," she said.

She indicated that Aquino, who asked Duterte to be relieved from office recently, should be sued for the rice supply problem.

Aside from granting rice import permits to private traders, NFA also imports rice in behalf of the government. It also buys palay from farmers, which it then sells at a low price to the poor.

The buffer stock of cheap rice sold by the NFA has plunged in recent months, leaving the poor with no choice but to buy the more expensive commercial rice. This, in effect, pushed demand and increased prices.

"In short, si Jason Aquino na umani ng batikos dahil sa tuluyang pagsirit ng presyo ng bigas, umani ng batikos dahil sa pakikipagsabwatan sa mga rice hoarder at smuggler, at umani ng batikos dahil sa sunod sunod na kapalpakan, ay nasa pamunuan na naman ng NFA," Hontiveros said.

Meanwhile, the opposition senator also urged his colleagues to pass the rice tariffication bill, which the House of Representatives already approved.

"We can talk about rice tarrification and other important policy measures. But without addressing rice tara-ffication, our policies remain inutile," she said.

vuukle comment





  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with