Several lawmakers, former finance secretaries and even a group of prominent economists joined the call to abolish the National Food Authority (NFA) as the agency was unable to fulfill its role of stabilizing the rice prices and supply in the market.
The agency has been called out after the recent rice shortage crisis in Zamboanga City and other towns and cities in Mindanao, which caused the rice prices to go up by as much as P50 to P70 per kilo, and prompted local officials to declare a state of calamity in the affected areas.
In January, NFA also reported that its buffer rice would only last for 2 days which is lower than the 15-day threshold storage requirement.
Rice prices increased as a result of the shortage, which prompted President Duterte to approve the proposal to import 500,000 metric tons of rice which came too short and too delayed to meet the need.
NFA Unable to Fulfill Mandate to Stabilize Rice Supply and Prices
In a statement issued by a group composed of former finance secretaries and economists, it said that the National Food Authority (NFA) has no clue at all and not efficient in timing the importation and distribution of rice.
To date, only a small portion of the approved 500,000-metric-ton-shipment of imported rice has arrived in the country, and some of it were even found to be infested with “bokbok”. NFA declared that the shipment is safe for consumption after it was fumigated.
Abolition of the NFA will also be logical after the rice tariffication bill will be approved. Duterte has tagged this bill as urgent to help address the country’s rice problems.
The bill is already approved in the House of Representatives and aims to replace Marcos-era rice import quotas with tariffs to allow free importation of the Filipino staple, and still protect local farmers by allocating tariff revenues on agricultural equipment and facilities.