NFA welcomes audit of its operations
National Food Authority (NFA) Administrator Jason Aquino said the agency is open to any sort of audit, in reaction to the call of the NFA Council for an independent audit on its operations after the state-run grains agency lost all its buffer stocks.
“Our documents are ready for scrutiny,” said Aquino.
Aquino said that the food agency’s operations are transparent, deploring accusations that there are any irregularities in its rice distribution activities as insinuated by some groups.
The NFA Council is particularly questioning NFA management why it released a lot of its rice stocks during the harvest season from October to December while distribution was low during the lean months of July to September.
It is not correct to say that NFA’s rice distribution was high during the harvest season and low during the lean months, NFA said.
Over the last ten years, records show that NFA rice distribution was in fact lowest in 2017 at 14 million bags. NFA rice distribution was highest during the rice crisis in 2008 at 40.5 million bags.
In 2009, total rice releases was recorded at 37.4 million bags; 35.1 million bags in 2010; 22.2 million bags in 2011; 15.3 million bags in 2011; 15.1 million bags in 2012; 26.4 million bags in 2014; 18.8 million bags in 2015; and 22.9 million bags in 2016.
NFA said the low distribution rate in 2017 was due to the agency’s depleting stocks.
“Part of NFA rice releases in October, November and December went to the relief agencies such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Office of Civil Defense and local government units (LGUs) for their relief operations totaling 292,848 bags. Total rice issued for relief operations in 2017 was 784,429 bags,” NFA said.
Aquino explained that the government contracted 250,000 metric tons imported rice in 2017 started arriving in the country only on the last week of August. Thus distribution during the lean months was calibrated due to low inventory.
With the arrival of fresh buffer stocks, NFA had to release older stocks to its network of accredited retailers nationwide to avoid deterioration. This is in line with the agency’s total quality management program.
As early as January 2018, NFA has been prudently allocating the remaining rice stocks in its warehouses to where it is most needed. The order of priority are: relief agencies, LGUs, government institutions, non-government organizations and accredited retailers.
NFA management has requested the NFA Council as early as October 2017 for the replenishment of the government buffer stocks through importation to prevent the possibility of NFA rice shortage in the market. Hence, the Council was forewarned of the depletion of stocks.
“Up to this time, the CabSec has yet to approve the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the importation of 250,000 metric tons that NFA management has submitted for approval, adopting the 2017 rice importation TOR, under an open tender or government to private scheme,” Aquino said.
“The NFA Council has been defying President Duterte’s order for an immediate importation of the 250,000 MT buffer stock replenishment,” he added.
During a special meeting with the NFA Council last March 19, the President has directed the NFA for the immediate rice importation saying he would rather prefer an excess supply of rice than a shortage.