The first shipment of the government’s subsidized rice varieties for this year is expected to arrive in Bohol within one week, said a local National Food Authority (NFA) official.
According to NFA Bohol provincial manager Ping Evasco, 30,000 sacks of rice are now being loaded to a vessel in Cebu City for transport to the province.
The rice supply which was imported from Thailand will be sold at P27 per kilo to consumers in the province.
Evasco said that NFA Bohol still has enough rice sacks stored in its warehouse to last for two weeks.
Meanwhile, quantity in the distribution of NFA rice to retailers will remain limited.
A total of 10 sacks each will be allocated for market-based outlets while five sacks each will be distributed to barangay-based outlets, said Evasco.
In December last year, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said that the NFA will stop the sale of subsidized rice once all its approved imports are depleted this year.
The government cannot afford subsidized rice anymore, Piñol added.
“NFA will turn into a welfare agency and it will be in huge debt. The P27 rice variant is not realistic and should have been removed a long time ago,” he said in a year-end press briefing.
However, Piñol noted that the Rice Tariffication Bill which is expected to be signed into law by President Duterte, will lower rice prices—by as much as P7 per kilo, the National Economic Development Authority earlier projected.
The bill is aimed at liberalizing the rice industry and streamlining rice importation.
In his letter addressed to Senate President Vicente Sotto III and House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Duterte said there is a need “to address the urgent need to improve availability of rice in the country, to prevent artificial rice shortage, reduce the prices of rice in the market, and curtail the prevalence of corruption and cartel domination in the rice industry.”
Once the bill is signed into law by Duterte, the NFA will no longer be able to import and, consequently, distribute cheaper rice.
The NFA, with the measure, will then be relegated to keeping buffer stock for emergency purposes and buying unmilled rice from farmers. (AD)