Availability of cheap rice assured amid tariffication

MANILA Lowpriced National Food Authority (NFA) rice will still be available in the market until the yearend and consumers will continue to benefit from cheaper imported rice with the passage of the rice tariffication law, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) assured on Thursday.

Certainly, the PHP27 (per kg. rice) will continue to be there because of NFA's buffer stocking and its continued unloading of stocks. In fact, it could probably even go cheaper once we (have) stabilized, normalized the market and cheaper imported rice will come in, NEDA Assistant Secretary for Regional Development Mercedita Sombilla said in a press briefing.

Sombilla said the NFA will be mandated to ensure the sufficient supply of buffer stocks of rice in the country.

She explained that what is going to be removed immediately would be its regulatory functions, including the licensing and provision of import permits to traders.

The NFA's presence will not be consistent in the market any more. But there will be more imports coming in, cheaper rice will already be available in the market and the absence of the NFApriced rice will no longer have that big impact on the consumers, she added.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia said the price of rice will probably be at least 50 percent cheaper over time when things (have) stabilized or normalized.

Pernia also assured farmers that the law provides safeguard mechanisms to protect rice farmers from any possible adverse effects of the removal of the quantitative restrictions (QR).

The law provides for rice tariff revenues in excess of PHP10 billion to be used in providing direct financial assistance to rice farmers affected by the removal of the QR and for diversification to highvalue crops, he said.

The rice tariffication law takes effect on March 5.

Sombilla said the law ensures the availability of rice in the domestic market for the accessibility of greater majority of the population by allowing more private traders to participate in importing rice.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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