NFA clarifies issuance of rice import permits
The National Food Authority (NFA) today clarified that the issuance of import permits to private rice importers under the 2016 minimum access volume (MAV) allocation from March to June this year was based on the decision of the inter-agency NFA Council, the agency’s policy-making body, to extend the rice import deliveries from February 28 to March 31, and later to June 30.
The food agency issued this clarification in light of the complaint filed by Senator Panfilo Lacson before the Ombudsman alleging that rice shipments made by Cebu Lite Trading Inc. (CLTI), one of the 2016 MAV rice importers, were “smuggled” because it did not have an import permit and did not pay customs taxes and duties.
“CLTI was only one of so many rice importers issued IPs during the period, that paid their due customs duties, thus it is puzzling why this company was singled out,” the NFA said.
The import permits were issued in compliance with the extension granted by the NFA Council.
A total of P553 million advance customs duties were paid to the government out of the import permits issued.
“There is no irregularity in the said transactions as decisions by the NFA follow stringent rules with respect to the MAV importation,” the NFA pointed out.
It will be recalled that NFA administrator Jason L. Y. Aquino initially stood firm on not allowing the extension of rice import deliveries from the February 28 deadline set under the 2016 MAV rice importation TOR.
At the time, President Rodrigo Duterte had said he did not want rice imports to arrive into the country during the summer harvest season from March to May as these may dampen the farm-gate price of local palay.
However, when the NFA Council decided to extend the delivery period, NFA had to follow that policy decision.