THE National Food Authority (NFA) Council has authorized an adjustment in the reference price for the import auction covering 203,000 metric tons (MT) of rice, in the hope that the new price will be more acceptable to key government-to-government suppliers Vietnam and Thailand.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said on Wednesday that the initial reference price of $447.88 was well below the Thai and Vietnamese offers because it incorporated estimates of prices that suppliers from India or Pakistan might find acceptable.
“We included the prices of India and Pakistan which are lower than Vietnam and Thailand,” Mr. Piñol told reporters in a briefing, without disclosing the new reference price.
“Yesterday, following the observation made by members of the council, the reference prices were (adjusted to incorporate) the prices of Vietnam and Thailand,” Mr. Piñol said.
The NFA rejected most offers from Thailand and Vietnam in the first round of bidding, at which only 47,000 MT worth of contracts was awarded. The re-bid for the remaining 203,000 MT attracted no offers, endangering the import timetable for rice and threatening a supply crunch in low-cost rice during the yearend holidays.
The NFA Council authorized the import of 750,000 MT of rice in 2018, divided into three equal batches of 250,000 MT each. The initial 250,000 MT was initially scheduled for arrival in Philippine ports by Dec. 15, which many suppliers were said to have considered difficult to comply with.
“Yesterday, during the NFA Council meeting, the reference price was reviewed which I am not in liberty to disclose because it will compromise our bidding process,” Mr. Piñol said. Another bidding will be conducted next week, according to Mr. Piñol.
Mr. Piñol said that the terms of reference were not changed, with the date of arrival still Dec. 15 in various Philippine ports.
He added that there is enough low-cost NFA rice to meet demand.
“As of the moment, in the warehouses, we have stocks for about 33 days and we have another 43,000 metric tons (MT) coming by the end of November,” according to Mr. Piñol. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio