By Llanesca Panti, September 3 2018; GMA Network


Image Credit to GMA Network

The passage of the Rice Tariffication law, which will allow the unbridled entry of imported rice in the country, should pave the way for the abolition of the National Food Authority (NFA), House Appropriations panel chair Karlo Nograles said on Monday.

Nograles made the response on calls that NFA should be abolished considering that it has failed its mandate to maintain a buffer stock for 15 days, resulting in skyrocketing rice prices that are now ranging from P50 to P70 per kilo as against and NFA rice which only costs P27 to P32 per kilo.

“There is an opportunity to abolish the NFA kapag naipasa na ang Rice Tariffication law kasi tatanggalin nun ang quantitative restriction on imports. Makakapasok na ang imported rice at may kaakibat itong tariff na gagamiting direct subsidy para sa ating magsasaka,” Nograles said in an interview with News To Go.

“Sa ganung sitwasyon, useless na ang NFA kasi hindi na nila kailangan humingi ng import permit sa NFA council,” Nograles added.

Under existing structure, the NFA’s mandate is to buy palay from farmers and seek import permits from NFA council if need be.

The NFA council, chaired by NFA administrator Jason Aquino, is composed of 11 government agencies including: Department of Trade and Industry, Development Bank of the Philippines, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, National Economic and Development Authority, Department of Finance, Office of the President, among others.

“Ang mandato naman talaga ng NFA ay bumili ng palay sa mga magsasaka, second option lang ang mag Import,” Nograles said.

Nograles then blamed the NFA for squandering P2 billion of its funding which was earmarked for buying farmers’ yields but was instead used to pay NFA’s debts in Landbank and Development Bank of the Philippines.

“Walang problema sa commercial rice. Ang problema ‘yung supply ng murang NFA rice. Dahil walang murang NFA rice, napepressure ang mga tao na bumili ng commercial rice na mas mahal,” Nograles said.

“Wala kasing choice ang mga tao. Kaya kahit linggo-linggo tumataas ang bigas, walang magawa ang mga tao kundi bumili ng mas mataas [na presyo ng bigas],” he added.

The House of Representatives already passed the Rice Tariffication bill last month but the Senate is yet to act on it. —NB, GMA News