NFA Council expands private sector role in rice importation for 2016 quota


BusinessWorld

THE INTERAGENCY National Food Authority (NFA) Council has agreed to change the government-to-government rice import scheme to a government-to- private (G2P) arrangement this year - with the delivery of private sector- led imports set to arrive in tranches.

Cabinet Secretary Leoncio B. Evasco, Jr., also the ex-officio chairman of the NFA Council, said in a statement issued yesterday that the shift from the previous importation policy aims to increase “transparency” in government procurement.

Mr. Evasco added that 250,000 metric tons “import authority” - which the NFA sought to be activated to augment buffer stock - will be divided into tranches with a cap on each lot “to ensure competition and fair trade.”

“The council is looking at dividing the importation to eight to 10 lots with minimum of 25,000 MT (metric tons) and maximum of 50,000 MT per lot,” Mr. Evasco said

“At least 30% of the volume of import quotas should arrive between August and September, and the balance to arrive between December 2017 and February 2018,” he added.

In a statement last month, Mr. Evasco said the NFA council instructed the NFA management to sign the remaining import permits covering 54,000 MT from the 2016 Minimum Access Volume (MAV) currently stuck in the country’s ports, and extend the scheme for the remaining 20,000 MT to boost rice stocks.

MAV refers to the volume of commodities allowed for import by a member country, as a commitment to the World Trade Organization.

The Council approved the importation of 805,000 MT of rice under the MAV scheme this year - the last of its kind before the lifting of the quantitative restrictions on rice by June 30.

The NFA is required to maintain a rice buffer stock equivalent to 15 days’ supply at any given time. During the lean months - July to August - the grains agency is required to maintain a 30-day inventory.

The 250,000 tons is the remaining balance of the 500,000 tons of rice imports authorized for 2016 via the government-to-government import scheme.

“Furthermore, in order to lessen the cost of goods, the terms of payment which previously lasted for 365 days have been decreased to 15 days since only big-time players can afford to wait 365 days,” Mr. Evasco also said in the same statement.

“The council has also agreed to remove Subic Freeport Zone as port of entry for G2P and to include Zamboanga City as port of entry instead,” he added.

The NFA is one of the 12 agencies under the Office of the Cabinet Secretary.

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