MANILA - Senator Nancy Binay on Sunday bemoaned the dwindling supply of National Food Authority (NFA) rice in the market as she questioned the food council on its measures to address the issue.
“Totoong may supply ng bigas sa mga palengke, pero nagkakaubusan na po ang tinitindang NFA rice,” Binay said in a statement.
“Dahil sa kakulangan ng tinitindang NFA rice sa merkado, napupuwersa ang ating mga kababayan na bumili ng mahal na bigas,” she added.
(It's true that the rice supply in the market is adequate, but the NFA rice for sale is running out. Due to the shortage of NFA rice in the market, the public is forced to buy pricier rice.)
Citing a report from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Binay said the prices of regular and well-milled rice have risen by P1 to P3 per kilo in 6 regional centers including Metro Manila, Kidapawan City and Naga City.
Although the NFA cannot control the prices of commercial rice, which costs about P36 to P41 per kilo, the agency offers more affordable rice at P27 to P32 per kilo, the senator noted.
The NFA, however, has deferred the importation of 250,000 metric tons of rice despite admitting that its current rice buffer stock is good for only 3 days.
The agency is required to have at least 15-day buffer stock at any given time and 30-day buffer stock during lean season, which usually starts in July until September.
“The Council should not rely on mere projections and instead be flexible and sensitive to the needs on the ground,” Binay said.
“Kamakailan lang inamin na mismo ng NFA na 3 araw na lang ang buffer stock ng NFA rice. Ano nang nangyari sa polisiya na dapat magkaroon ng 15-day buffer stock ang ahensya?” she said."
(Recently, the NFA itself disclosed that its buffer stock will only last for 3 days. Whatever happened to the policy that it should have a 15-day buffer stock?)
Binay reiterated her call for the NFA to disclose which suppliers were given import permits under the minimum access volume scheme.
“This is in the interest of transparency and to prevent issues like conflicts of interest and corruption,” she said.