• NFA approves new bidding procedures

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    The National Food Authority Council (NFAC) has approved new procedures for rice biddings to allow more traders to join.

    In a statement, NFAC chairman and Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco announced on Tuesday that the council approved several measures in its rice importation programs in line with its recent policy shift, including the implementation of a tranche-based delivery in the minimum access volume (MAV) and the government-to-private (G2P) schemes.

    “The delivery of private sector-led importation shall arrive in tranches. At least 30 percent of the volume import quotas should arrive between August and September and the balance to arrive between December and February,” Evasco said.

    On top of this, he added that the National Food Authority (NFA) administrator must release import permits within a day. The NFA was also directed to issue certificates of eligibility to rice traders within two days, cutting short the processing of applications that used to take15 days.

    Under the G2P, the NFAC will divide the 250,000 metric tons (MT) of rice import into tranches of arrival and will be putting a cap on each lot to ensure competition and fair trade.

    “The council is looking at dividing the importation to eight to 10 lots with minimum of 25,000 MT and maximum of 50,000 MT per lot. This year’s government-to-private importation seeks to do away with the old government-to-government [G2G] that lacks transparency and competition,” Evasco said.

    To lessen the cost of goods, he said the terms of payment on rice import will be decreased to 15 days, which previously lasted for a year, “since only big time players can afford to wait for 365 days.”

    Moreover, the Cabinet secretary said the NFAC has also agreed to remove the Subic Freeport Zone as port of entry for G2P. It will be replaced by Zamboanga City.

    “Only the total cost is required for the bidders to bid out. Other expenses such as cost of freight, logistics and insurance will no longer be revealed since these details are considered as trade secret. Revealing such information will give unscrupulous traders and government officials idea on which costs to pad or adjust,” Evasco said.

    “Provisions disqualifying suppliers with pending liabilities before 2017 were removed so that many bidders can participate. After all, they still enjoy the presumption of innocence but the NFA should continue to demand collection and file legal cases as appropriate,” he added.

    Evasco said the NFAC also directed the NFA to have uniform Terms of Reference for all NFA regional Bids and Awards Committee on cargo handling.

    “With these changes being in place, the council is confident that it is being faithful to its foremost duty, that amid the lean season, it is able to secure fair pricing and affordable yet quality rice for every Filipino household,” he said.

    However, the Cabinet secretary did not mention when the NFAC will begin the bidding for the 250,000 MT of rice import under the G2P.

    CATHERINE S. VALENTE

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