THE government has lost a cumulative P200 billion in revenues due to the National Food Authority’s (NFA) monopoly of rice importation, the Trade secretary said.
“We end up selling at a loss—a cumulative P200 billion because by the time the imported rice comes in, prices have already gone down,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said on Monday during the 18th Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Trade Negotiating Committee (TNC) Meeting and Related Meetings.
Lopez said that President Rodrigo Duterte has instructed economic managers to continue allowing the private sector to import rice.
The NFA will not be allowed to monopolize rice importation because its main mandate is to purchase local palay (unmilled rice) from rice farmers. However, the NFA may also import rice when needed, Lopez added.
He said the other benefit of this is that aside from dismantling NFA’s monopoly on rice importation, the government will no longer need to allocate a budget to import the staple.
The private sector will have to pay the 35 percent tariff for imported rice creating another revenue stream for the government, Lopez said, adding that “the private sector knows that timing and market competition will play significant roles in terms of pricing and volume of imports.”
The Department of Agriculture may still come up with some rules on the quantity of rice importation depending on their projection of harvest and demand, he said.