To prevent further conflicts of interest and viewpoints between government agencies, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is now pushing for the nomination of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) to the National Food Authority (NFA) council.
In an interview, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said that the interagency working committee would nominate NEDA Director General Arsenio Balisacan as member of the NFA council, replacing Philippine National Bank (PNB) President Carlos Pedrosa.
“The interagency committee, during our meeting, has proposed to nominate a new member for the NFA council, replacing PNB, which is no longer a government-owned bank,” he said.
Alcala added that the DA expects the NFA council to decide on the proposal in the next meeting, noting that the Governance Commission for GOCCs (GCG) has yet to inform PNB on the matter.
“It would be better for the NFA council to have NEDA as part of the decision-making. Whatever the discussion, especially on rice and corn programs, they will always be updated and they could participate,” he added.
To recall, the DA and NEDA locked horns over the recommendation of the latter for more rice importation, despite assurance by the NFA council that there is enough rice supply by year-end.
In a memorandum sent to Malacañang in September 2013, Balisacan recommended the importation of additional 500,000 metric tons of rice to arrest the rising grains prices and prevent a possible shortage of the staple.
Alcala, however, maintained that there would be no government-led importation this year, adding that the DA continues to be guided by President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s policy pronouncement during his second State of the Nation Address to limit importation of the staple to a minimum.