THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) will invite major retailers to import 350,000 metric tons (MT) of rice to supply supermarkets by the end of October, noting that two such groups have expressed their willingness to import the staple.
“We are writing now to the retailers, and even the traders, who will guarantee to sell at [P38 per kilogram],” Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez told reporters on Tuesday on the sidelines of the Inclusive Innovation Conference 2018 held in Pasay City.
“While prices remain high, we will apply pressure by encouraging sales at P38,” Mr. Lopez added, referring to the suggested retail price for regular-milled rice, which is the variety typically purchased from the National Food Authority (NFA) by low-income families.
He added that the DTI will propose 350,000 MT in rice imports to the interagency NFA Council (NFAC) which assesses the domestic rice supply and demand before approving importation.
A member of the NFAC, the DTI said the 350,000 MT is estimated to fill the “immediate needs” of the B, C, D and E market segments.
Said he has discussed the scheme with retailers that he declined to identify, adding that they are “willing” to sell P38 rice in their stores.
“They are major retailers who can guarantee selling rice at this price. They are also trusted by the public and have systems we can audit.”
He said the import scheme is open to all parties that commit to sell at P38, but threatened unspecified sanctions against any parties that violate these terms. Those who violate the proposed conditional rice importation scheme.
Mr. Lopez expects the availability of the volume in supermarkets by the end of the month after President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed Administrative Order 13 to ease the rice importation process. — Janina C. Lim