THE National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said it expects to decide by the end of March on the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Rice Tariffication Act submitted by the National Food Authority (NFA) Council.
In a phone interview on Wednesday, NEDA Undersecretary Rosemarie G. Edillon said “(The IRR) should be (decided on) because the law is already being implemented)” when asked if it is possible to make a decision in March.
The NFA Council submitted an amended IRR on Monday, March 5, the first day of the rollout of the law.
Among the provisions in the draft, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said in a phone interview Wednesday are one that permit the continuous sale of rice by the NFA at prices to be determined by the NFA Council, provided that the prices are set such that the agency does not lose money.
Ms. Edillon said that NEDA has yet to review the IRR.
“We will check the reasons for the policy, (and) if it supports the bottomline objective which is to improve the rice trading regime,” Ms. Edillon added.
NEDA’s original plan was to auction NFA buffer stock as needed before the inventory ages out, and not to sell it directly in the market through retailers as per current practice.
Mr. Piñol also said that the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) should be staffed by personnel from the NFA as it finds itself with an enlarged role as private entities import rice and need to obtain sanitary permits.
“The law’s implementation has gone ahead but there should be some period of adjustment. The BPI should be beefed up by employees from the NFA because it cannot possibly (fulfill its) food safety function right away because it lacks the background,” Mr. Piñol said.
Ms. Edillon concurred but added there is a need to conduct an inventory of the skills of NFA employees as well as prepare for a capacity building program or retraining these personnel. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio