A GROUP of rice traders on Tuesday said they suspect that the National Food Authority (NFA) is using damages caused by Typhoon Glenda as an excuse to import 200,000 metric tons of rice purportedly to beef up its stock.
According to a member of the group, the importation is uncalled for because “not much rice stock was lost to the typhoon even if many areas suffered from Glenda.”
He explained that the typhoon hardly made a dent on stocks and supplies of the five biggest NFA warehouses in Plaridel, Bulacan; San Pablo City, Laguna; Lucena City and Infanta, Quezon; and Batangas City, Batangas.
“So it is clear as day that they [NFA authorities] are only using Typhoon Glenda as a convenient excuse, for them to make another round of 200,000 metric tons of rice importation” the rice trader said.
He added that the NFA should have enough supply of rice because it purchased some 400,000 metric tons during the early part of this year.
The rice trader, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals, said another 800,000 metric tons also arrived before an additional 200,000 metric tons were also shipped to the country just recently.
He and the other rice traders wondered why the NFA did not issue them permits to import rice.
“Something is really fishy with their actions. If there is indeed a need to import, then by all means we have to buy rice from foreign sources. But the big question is, why is it that the NFA is doing all the importations while completely ignoring the private traders?” the rice trader asked.
He said there are still some 40,000 metric tons allocated for private rice importers but the NFA has been refusing to issue new permits for them to be able to participate in the importation.
The group of rice traders raised the possibility that some corrupt NFA personnel, together with obscure groups operating inside the agency, could be behind in the manipulation of rice supply and the continued upward spiral of rice prices in the market.
It particularly questioned the series of rice importations initiated by the NFA recently, amid pronouncements that the country has sufficient supply of the staple.
The rice traders said the mandate of NFA Administrator Arthur Juan to ensure the sufficient supply of food and rice at all times “does not mean that they [in the agency]would lean on rice importations all the time to comply with what the law says.”