NFA collects P11.86-million fines from erring grains retailers

The National Food Authority (NFA) collected P11.86 million in fines and enforcement fees from 1,758 grains sellers who violated the country’s grains business laws in January to August.

NFA Administrator Jason Laureano Y. Aquino said the fines were collected from unlicensed grains retailers, and those who did not display price tags properly, used uncalibrated weighing scale and engaged in the rebagging of NFA rice.

“Most of the apprehensions were recorded in Regions 1, 2, 9, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and Caraga,” Aquino said in a statement.

He noted that under Presidential Decree (PD) 4, which created the NFA, the agency is empowered by law “to inspect palay, rice, and other grains stored by any person, partnership, corporation or association, for purposes of taking inventory and record of such
commodities”.

He added the NFA is also authorized “to order the seizure, when there is hoarding of rice and other grains products, including facilities and equipment used in said hoarding, or whenever there is a scarcity of supply in such commodity in the consumer market and/or an unwarranted increase in the price”.

In 2016  the NFA recorded 3,155 violations by 2,404 grains businessmen and was able to collect P19.67 million in fines and enforcement fees.

“Our constant market monitoring did not only keep the price of rice stable at P35 to P42 per kilogram but we were also able to keep the grains retailers from unnecessarily increasing their retail price based on market speculation or manipulation of big rice traders,” Aquino said.

He added he instructed enforces of the NFA to be “more stringent” in the monitoring of any illegal activities in the market after the delayed arrival of NFA rice imports for the lean months.

Aquino said grains retailers caught in violation of PD 4 have to pay a fine, while NFA-accredited rice retailers are covered by the agency’s “One Strike Policy”, which means retailers would lose their accreditation on the first offense.