PHILIPPINE International Trading Corp., an attached agency of the Trade Department, proposed to import up to 150,000 metric tons or 3 million bags of rice to augment the current stock of the National Food Authority.
The department is tapping the bulk procurement expertise of PITC, the country’s premier government-controlled trading corporation, to bring in more rice through government-to-government procurement.
Trade Undersecretary Ruth Castelo said the agency would be on standby until the NFA Council cleared the proposal.
Castelo said with PITC’s proven international trading experience, it could bring rice to the country by December and sell them to consumers at P27 to P32 per kilo.
She said the DTI’s effort was a part of the government’s all-out efforts to find concrete solution by tapping various agencies to extend assistance in bringing down prices of rice.
PITC president and chief executive Dave Almarinez said the agency was throwing its full support behind the government’s effort, through DTI, to address the current artificial rice shortage.
Smuggling, hoarding and ‘man-made’ price manipulation in the rice industry are pinpointed as the main reasons the low-income families are now facing difficulties in buying affordable rice.
Almarinez said PITC was joining DTI and NFA in preventing rice hoarders from hurting the economy and lives of millions of Filipinos.
The subsidized rice―priced at P27 and P32 a kilo depending on the variant―would be considered a reprieve for poor Filipino consumers as current prices of commercial rice reached an average all-time high of P43 a kilo.
The NFA last week approved an additional importation of 250,000 metric tons of rice this year under an open tender scheme. The action will bring the agency’s rice imports for the year to 750,000 MT, including the half a million ton of imports approved earlier this year.
The PITC said that once its proposal was approved, it would implement strategies to effectively bring down the price of rice.
It said that by flooding the market with imported rice, hoarders would be left with no option but to release their supply in the market and eventually stabilize prices.