The National Food Authority Council ordered the NFA management to sign the remaining import permits from the 2016 minimum access volume, Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco said Wednesday.
“We ordered the NFA management to sign the remaining import permits covering 54,000 metric tons from the 2016 MAV that are already in our domestic ports, and publish the extension until June for the remaining 20,000 metric tons to augment our industry stocks,” Evasco said in a statement.
MAV refers to the volume of commodities allowed to be imported by a member country as a commitment to the World Trade Organization.
The 2016 minimum access volume is the last before the lifting of the quantitative restriction on rice next month.
Evasco earlier announced the NFA Council approved the importation of 805,000 metric tons MAV of rice this year.
He said the NFA Council directed the NFA management to amend the MAV guidelines to require participating traders to import 25 percent brokens rice from their 25 to 30 percent quota.
Evasco said the move would ensure adequate supply and stabile consumer prices at levels within the reach of low-income families.
“Private importers in practice usually import 5 to 15 percent brokens rice or so called premium rice which goes to commercial stocks. However, this time, the council will require private importers to allocate around 25 to 30 percent of their quota to import 25 percent brokens of rice. This move is to guarantee availability of affordable rice in the local market,” said Evasco.
“The Council believes that we should let the private sector do the importation of rice instead of NFA. They know the market forces way better than NFA. Under the law, the NFA is mandated to insure adequacy of supply and stability of commercial prices at levels within the reach of low income families. The NFA therefore is not required to directly participate in the market,” Evasco said.
Evasco clarified there was no rice shortage in the country.
“There is actually no shortage yet. But the lean months is fast approaching hence we need to prepare. Importation of rice is all about timing. Let us not speculate on having a shortage. An alarmist stance will only trigger the world market price to spike up,” said Evasco.