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Palace sees rice prices falling as imports arrive

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NFA rice
PHILSTAR

MALACAÑANG on Monday said that the arrival of fresh stocks of low-cost rice imports is expected to result in the reduction of commercial rice prices.

“The NFA has a lot more rice, so we are expecting the market price to fall,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. said in a briefing at the Palace, referring to the National Food Authority (NFA).

In a statement, Mr. Roque said: “The rice in Subic (port) has yet to be unloaded because of last week’s incessant rains. Once unloaded, it will be sold at the NFA price of P27-P32.”

The NFA said in a statement that “it has been doing its best to make rice available, accessible, and affordable to the country’s poor and low-income consumers but there are policy and operational decisions it cannot make alone, aside from the fact that natural events can also limit its efficiency and effectiveness in fulfilling its mandate of food security and stabilization of supply and price of the country’s basic staple.”

The NFA also said the imported rice from Vietnam and Thailand started arriving in the first week of June, “but some cannot be unloaded due to heavy rains at the ports.”

“As soon as the weather becomes a little better, the stocks will be immediately brought to NFA warehouses and immediate dispersal will follow. I have instructed all NFA field directors and managers to immediately distribute the stocks as soon as possible to give immediate relief to our poor countrymen, particularly those belonging to the marginalized sector, and help bring down rice prices,” NFA administrator Jason Laureano Y. Aquino was quoted as saying.

He added: “Over the past 45 years, the presence of NFA rice in the market had always been hailed as a fulcrum against inflation. There had been great spikes in the prices of fuel and other basic goods before, but having enough supply of affordable NFA rice has always cushioned our poor countrymen from hunger and economic difficulty.”

Mr. Aquino added: “Records show that the increase in rice prices started way before NFA’s announcement that its stocks are being depleted and that there was a need for immediate importation to replenish the government buffer stocks.”

“We’d like to emphasize once again that the NFA never said there was rice shortage in the country. NFA was consistent in saying that there was more than enough commercial rice. What was being depleted was NFA rice, which was the only option for our poor countrymen. However, some members of the media deliberately misled the public which actually caused panic,” Mr. Aquino said. — Arjay L. Balinbin