PHILIPPINES MULLS RICE IMPORTATION
Last Updated: 2018-09-14
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MANILA, Sept 14 (NNN-AGENCIES) -- Philippines' Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is looking at importing rice to help augment supply of the National Food Authority (NFA) and stabilize rice prices.

DTI Undersecretary Ruth Castelo said the agency is looking at a rice importation of 150,000 metric tons or 3 million bags through the Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC), the trading arm of DTI. Each bag weighs 50 kilograms.

Castelo, however, said they still need the approval of the NFA Council if they would be allowed to import rice. She also clarified that they will not be engaged in selling the grain, only import to help NFA augment its stock.

“If PITC is done with their computations this week, we can make presentation to the NFA Council to seek for approval for the importation,” Castelo said without divulging the cost of the rice importation.

Meanwhile, San Miguel Food and Beverage Inc. (SMFB), a subsidiary of diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corporation expressed interest to import rice once Congress enacts a law that will liberalize the entry of the staple into the country.

“We are waiting for the law that will allow us to import rice. We can offer this to the government. We can help the government,” SMC President Ramon S. Ang said in an interview.

“The intention is to help food security of the country and help local farmers and supply consumers with reliable and good quality rice at a low price,” said Ang noting that the import tax for rice can be used by the government to subsidize farmers.

He said they are already talking to possible suppliers for bulk importation of milled and unmilled rice noting that SMFB has a large capacity to handle these.

Ang also noted that rice stored in their silos will remain fresh and last longer since these have proper aeration and are temperature controlled to prevent them from spoiling.

“We will help in this business. If there is a law that will allow us to, we can quickly do it,” he said, adding they can also help rice farmers if they put up facilities to buy local unmilled rice. -- NNN-AGENCIES