Magpale incensed by delay of rice importation by NFA
The public will have to wait for another five more months before the 250,000 metric tons (MT) or five million bags of imported rice will be ready for distribution, an official of the National Food Authority (NFA)-7 said yesterday.
NFA-7 Regional Director Procopio Trabajo II said that their request to import has already been approved but the NFA Council in Manila would like them to import in June yet. Trabajo it would take at least two months for the process of bidding and transaction to be completed. He, however, refused to comment on why the NFA Council wants to delay the importation.
“If we will be working all the processes in June, it means that at the earliest we would receive the imported rice by August,” he told the Provincial Board (PB) on Monday.
“Despite the fact that the order of the president is immediate, the council would like us to import in June,” he added.
An angry Cebu Vice Governor Agnes Magpale said the delay of importation defeated the purpose of the NFA which is to provide a cheaper alternative for low-income consumers.
“All the ten million Filipinos are under the mercy of the NFA council,” she said. This number represents NFA consumers classified as the poorest of the poor.
Meanwhile, NFA accredited retailers expressed concern over reports that the NFA distributed rice only to traders in the months that the agency has stopped distributing to its accredited retailers resulting in high prices of the staple.
Celsa Bernales, vice president of the Grain Retailers Confederation of the Philippines (Grecon)-Cebu claimed that the NFA-7 stopped distributing NFA rice from August 15 to Oct. 24 last year. But she said traders were selling NFA rice in September.
“This is the first time we experienced no distribution of NFA. Supposedly, they are the stabilizer,” Bernales, who was a retailer for nearly 40 years, said.
But Trabajo denied the claim of Bernales, saying they have deployed monitoring units to markets and have not received any report that would corroborate Bernales’ allegations.
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