GOCC seeks nod to import rice

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The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), through its attached agency, the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC), is proposing to import up to 150,000 metric tons, or 3 million bags of rice, to augment the current supply the National Food Authority (NFA) is keeping right now.

DTI is tapping the bulk procurement expertise of PITC, the country’s premier government-controlled trading corporation, to bring in more rice in the market through government-to-government procurement.

According to Trade Undersecretary Ruth Castelo, they are on standby should the NFA Council clears the proposal. She added that with PITC’s proven international trading experience, they expect the rice to arrive by December and plans to sell them to consumers at P27-P32 per kilo.

DTI’s move is part of the government’s all-out effort to find concrete solution by tapping various agencies to extend assistance in bringing down the price of rice.

PITC President and CEO Dave M, Almarinez, also Trade Undersecretary, said the PITC stands behind government in addressing the artificial rice shortage.

Smuggling, hoarding and ‘man-made’ price manipulation in the rice industry are the main reasons why low-income families are now facing difficulties in buying affordable rice within their means. They had to endure long lines just to buy evenly-priced rice rationed and supplied by the NFA in designated areas.

Almarinez added the PITC is one with DTI and NFA in preventing rice hoarders from hurting the country’s economy and the lives of millions of Filipinos.

The subsidized rice — priced at P27 and P32 a kilo depending on the variant—is considered the only reprieve for poor Filipino consumers from the current prices of commercial rice, which have reached an average all-time high of P43 a kilo.

PITC, if tapped, will implement strategies that will be effective to bring down the price of rice even before imported rice reached the country.

Last week, NFA approved additional importation of 250,000 metric tons (MT) of rice this year under an open tender scheme. This will bring the agency’s rice imports for the year to 750,000 MT, including the half a million ton of imports approved earlier this year.

NFA’s strategy to flood the market with affordable rice is laudable, but an open tender scheme might take a longer time to implement.

PITC, if tapped, will implement strategies that will be effective to bring down the price of rice even before imported rice reached the country.

By flooding the market with imported rice, hoarders will be left with no option but to release their supply in markets and eventually stabilize the price of rice.

PITC has been playing a leading role in some critical economic programs of the DTI since 1973, as well as helped bring down the cost of medicines in the 1990s and 2000s.

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