THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said it expects at least 839 employees to be affected on the restructuring of the National Food Authority (NFA).

“There would be a reduction of about 839 employees mainly (in) regulatory and enforcement (functions),” Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said on Tuesday.

He said that the Governance Commission for Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations (GCG) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) will decide the details of the severance package.

“The (NFA) Council recommended two options to be decided by the GCG and DBM because… the workers would only receive about 1.5 month of payment for every year of service. But the employees actually pointed out that there is a law which covered the compensation package for BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) and former ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) employees in the creation of the BARMM Law na nagbibigay ng [which gives] 2 months for every year of service,” he said.

Mr. Piñol said the restructuring plan was approved in an NFA Council meeting on Tuesday, but the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) have said further restructuring may be needed.

Natanggal ‘yung [Positions removed were] regulatory positions and enforcement positions and there was the clustering of provincial offices. In almost all cases, it would be three provinces to a provincial manager. There was a suggestion from NEDA and DTI to further trim down the number of regions,” he said.

He said the Council also agreed to wait for the results of an independent study before taking further actions.

The NFA lost a number of its importing and regulatory functions under the Rice Tariffication Law, which leaves much of the rice importing function to the private sector. It is now tasked mainly with procuring domestic rice to maintain a buffer stock.

Meanwhile, the NFA has assured that it is fully cooperating with the implementation of the tarification law.

In a statement, Tomas R. Escarez, officer-in-charge administrator of NFA said that even before the signing of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the law, the agency implemented some self-executing provisions.

The agency has stopped processing documents for rice importation and issuance of rice import permits of private importers, and bids for government-to-government import deals.

On the domestic front, it has stopped licensing and registering grains businesses, monitoring and inspecting rice facilities, and enforcing grains trading rules and regulations, among others.

“Under Rule 3.4 of the IRR, a transition period of ‘at most 60 days’ is allotted to implement NFA’s reorganization to suit its new functions. NFA has 30 days to submit its Restructuring and Reorganization Plan to the Governance Commission for GOCCs for review and approval,” NFA noted in the statement. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang