Full-time Customs exec eyed to handle rice import permits

A man arranges sacks of NFA rice at the agency’s warehouse in Quezon City in this file photo.

Malacañang is looking to designate a full-time Customs person who will focus on authorizing the issuance of import permits for rice. This, after August inflation soared to a nine-year high and the delayed delivery of rice imports to the warehouses of the National Food Authority (NFA) was delayed partly for causing the supply pinch.

Presidential Spokesman Harry L. Roque Jr. said on the designation of the Bureau of Customs point person is being owing to the delays in rice importation in terms of logistics and the actual signing of relevant documents like import permits from the BOC.

Sometimes, he said in Filipino, “importation gets delayed because…the one who authorizes the issuance of permits is with the chairman of Customs, so rice import permits pile up or some import permits are not being signed. That’s why imported rice cannot be unloaded.”

Bad weather has delayed rice imports’ delivery to the NFA’s warehouses and it has also hindered the agency from immediately distributing cheaper rice to local markets.

“We know the problem. We have the problem in logistics. We have a problem sometimes on the time gap when it comes to signing the relevant documents at Customs. All of those are being addressed by the government,” Roque said.

Earlier, the economic managers agreed to recommend to the President the issuance of a directive to further simplify and streamline the licensing procedures for rice imports of the NFA.

Roque also said in a radio interview over the weekend that the President has made some decisions on the NFA, but he refused to give details yet on what such decisions are.

Asked if it is related to sacking NFA Administrator Jason Aquino, Roque said, “I’d rather that the President make that declaration if he has made up his mind on it.”

The President is also set to speak to the nation through a press conference later at 3 p.m. on Tuesday at Malacañang.

As of press time, there were no details yet on what prompted this sudden call for a press conference or what the President will be announcing.

After the press conference, the President will also be attending the Cabinet meeting, where the government preparations for the upcoming super typhoon, expected to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility on Wednesday night, might be discussed.

Roque also urged the public to start preparing for the upcoming typhoon and gave assurances that the Department of Social Welfare and Development is ready to provide humanitarian assistance.



Image Credits: Nonie Reyes

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Bernadette D. Nicolas currently covers Malacanang, Consultative Committee tasked to review 1987 Constitution, Department of Budget and Management and Philippine Competition Commission. She has more than 2 years experience of working with a multiplatform media group before transferring to BusinessMirror in February 2018. She earned her Journalism degree at University of Santo Tomas in 2014.