Dismissed Usec: No need to import rice via G2G, buy directly from farmers
Dismissed Palace undersecretary Maia Chiara Halmen Reina Valdez said food officials were not against the import of rice from another government to boost buffer stocks, but deemed it unnecessary at this time as harvest season has started.
“To clarify, although the (National Food Authority) Council is not opposed to G2G (government-to-government), its timing could not be more worse, for we are already expecting bumper harvest. Thus, G2G at the moment is entirely unnecessary,” she said in a statement.
The NFAC is the highest policy-making body that oversees the affairs of the NFA, particularly in deliberating and approving rice importation proposals through G2G or the minimum access volume (MAV) scheme.
Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr. sits as NFAC chair, while NFA administrator Jason Laureano Aquino serves as vice chair.
Valdez, former undersecretary for the Office of Cabinet Secretary, said the NFA should have procured palay from the local farmers as harvest season has started, instead of procuring rice via G2G deals.
“Bakit di mo bilhin palay ng mga magsasaka natin na may PHP4 billion ang NFA para diyan? (Why not buy palay from our farmers as the NFA has allocated PHP4 billion for that?),” she said.
“The NFAC thinks that it is not yet the right time for a G2G. The issue on importation is all about timing,” she added.
Citing the NFAC, Valdez further said a state-led importation means additional debt to be incurred by already debt-saddled NFA and ultimately be paid by the government through the taxpayers’ money.
She said NFA administrator Aquino’s proposal to import 1 million metric tons of rice through G2G would translate into about PHP24 billion worth of debt payable by the Philippine government, “using taxpayers’ money”.
“Hence, the members’ wish to be prudent in undertaking it,” she added.
In contrast, Valdez noted private-led importation, such as MAV, does not only spare the government from spending and incurring additional liabilities.
“(It) would even benefit therefrom since taxes and duties have already been deposited to the government coffers,” she reasoned.
Valdez was dismissed by President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday for favoring private rice importers more. (PNA)