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DTI seeking authorization to buy rice from foreign gov’ts

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NFA rice
PHILSTAR

THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is seeking to import an additional 150,000 metric tons of rice under a government-to-government scheme, saying that the process will take less time than an open tender.

In a statement Friday, the DTI said one of its agencies, the Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC), has proposed to ship in up to 150,000 metric tons, equivalent to 3 million bags of rice, to supplement the inventory held by the National Food Authority (NFA).

“DTI is tapping the bulk procurement expertise of PITC, the country’s premier government-controlled trading corporation, to bring in more rice through government-to-government procurement,” the DTI said.

Currently, only the NFA is authorized to conduct government-to-government transactions.

The DTI and the PITC were asked to comment on how they intend to obtain authorization for such imports, but had not replied at deadline time

“NFA’s strategy to flood the market with affordable rice is laudable, but an open tender scheme might take a longer time to implement. PITC, if tapped, will implement strategies that will be effective in bringing down the price of rice even before the imported rice reaches the country,” the PITC said.

“By flooding the market with imported rice, hoarders will be left no option but to release their supply in market and eventually stabilize the price of rice,” it added.

The PITC’s announcement comes a few days after the interagency NFA Council has approved last week the importation of 250,000 MT to be auctioned under an open tender.

The proposed 150,000 MT is expected to arrive in December when prices typically rise due to holiday demand.

Over 1.3 million MT has been approved so far for importation — with about 805,200 MT to be brought in by the private sector and 750,000 covered by government-to-government and open tender schemes.

The DTI said a decision is pending from the NFA Council.

The department said it will be selling the rice at at least P27 per kilo.

It said PITC’s track record includes helping bring down the cost of medicine in the 1900s and 2000s. — Janina C. Lim