The National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) has proposed to slash the rice stockpile requirement of the National Food Authority (NFA) once the country’s quantitative restriction (QR) on the staple is scrapped.
Neda Assistant Secretary Mercedita A. Sombilla said the NFA should maintain fewer volume of buffer stock, as there is an expected influx of “cheaper” foreign rice in the domestic market once the rice QR is removed.
The NFA is mandated by the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council to maintain a rice buffer stock good to last for 15 days at any given time and for 30 days at the onset of the lean months, which runs from July to September.
“I think that is going to be huge, that is a lot for the NFA to keep, especially now with tariffication coming in. We hope that we will encourage more rice to come in—cheaper rice at that,” Sombilla said at a news briefing on Tuesday.
“I do not think we need the NFA to be getting that much rice to keep. What it would need is to keep much, much lesser than the 15 and 30 days buffer stock, which it is being empowered to get,” Sombilla added.
The proposal, she said, is part of the NFA Council’s plan to restructure the state-run grains agency in a post-QR regime. Sombilla is a member of the NFA Council, the highest policy- making body of the NFA.
Furthermore, the Neda official told the BusinessMirror that based on preliminary estimates, the NFA should only maintain about eight-to 10-day buffer stock level in a post-QR regime regardless of season.
“My estimate is between eight and 10 days, that is my estimate only, especially when [rice imports] are going to be tariffied. So, more cheaper rice will be coming in,” Sombilla said in an interview after the briefing.