NFA clarifies proposal to buy BOC-held smuggled rice

July 24, 2013 10:23 am 

By Cielito Reganit

MANILA, July 23 (PNA) — The National Food Authority clarified Tuesday its proposal to buy smuggled rice recently seized by the Bureau of Customs in Cebu City was only meant to give BOC an option for the expeditious disposition of the stocks and not to interfere with its operations.

NFA Administrator Orlan Calayag said the proposal to enter into an arrangement with BOC regarding the confiscated rice stocks was also made with the end view of strengthening the partnership between the two agencies.

Calayag issued the clarification in the wake of media reports that the NFA had allegedly attempted to prevent the BOC from undertaking a scheduled auction of the seized rice.

The NFA head said that the proposal to buy the BOC-held smuggled rice was made with the goal of infusing the rice stock into the market to counteract any attempt to distort the rice market during the lean months.

“We are just concerned that during the period from July to September, when harvest is very minimal, the situation may be exploited by some traders who would constrict market supply to create an artificial shortage and raise prices,” he explained.

He recommended for the immediate disposition of the seized rice so that the BOC may help stabilize the price of rice in the market.

In the meantime, Calayag said the NFA’s legal team is currently re-evaluating the legal basis for the said proposal, particularly in connection with the Procurement Act in relation to the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines.

In a related development, the NFA said the price of rice have been stabilized with the agency’s release of well-milled rice at P32/per kilogram into the market.

Prior to the release, the agency’s monitoring teams have observed that commercial rice prices of the same quality were being sold at P34-35/kg.

Upon NFA’s release however, commercial rice traders immediately released their own stocks priced at P31-33/kg, thus bridging the gap in prices and providing more options for consumers to choose the kind and quality of rice they can afford to buy.

Calayag also belied reports that rice prices in Cebu have increased by P4/kg saying that the NFA in Cebu has more than enough stocks to counter any sharp increase in rice prices.

NFA Cebu presently holds some 1.2 million bags of rice which is good for 63 days or way beyond the standard requirement of 30 days level.

"The NFA will soon release the agency’s well-milled rice at P32/kg in Cebu to further stabilize rice prices in the area," Calayag said. (PNA)

HBC/CMR

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