NFA told to explain below-target palay procurement
The Department of Finance (DOF) has asked the National Food Authority (NFA) to immediately explain why it had procured palay stocks way below its projected buffer requirement in the second half of 2017 and revised its buying mix to heavily favor imports over rice from local farmers during the same period.
This, according to DOF, was despite ample funds at its disposal and a standby credit facility that it could have readily tapped to maintain its mandated buffer stock.
In a letter to NFA administrator Jason Aquino, the DOF said that based on a review of the agency’s financial records, the NFA received a P5.10-billion subsidy from the National Government (NG) in 2017, of which P3.01 billion was used to pay for accounts with the Bureau of the Treasury ((BTr), leaving a balance of P2.09 billion.
“This P2.09 billion from the subsidy fund could have been rolled over and used to procure more rice to beef up the NFA’s inventory, but instead, the DOF found out that the agency used the money to pay for its short-term credit facility with the Land Bank of the Philippines (LandBank) and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP),” DOF said in a statement.
A review of the NFA’s cash position, without taking into account the P2.09 billion NG subsidy, also confirmed that the NFA had a cash balance of P1.3 billion as of March 2017, which dropped to P1.2 billion as of end-June 2017; and available NG-guaranteed facilities of P3.58 billion as of March 2017, which fell to P2.1 billion as of end-June 2017.
For its debt-servicing requirements in 2017, the NFA had a P5.4-billion advance from the NG that was favorably endorsed by the DOF to the BTr.
This amount was for the NFA’s obligations that matured in October and November of that year, so that its available NG-guaranteed credit facilities could be utilized to augment funds for rice procurement.
“Our analysis further shows that the NFA had ample resources coming from cash balances and available credit facilities, even without considering the subsidy receipts and uses, to procure the projected volume of local rice at least up to the third quarter under its May projection submitted to the DOF,” said Assistant Secretary Soledad Emilia Cruz of the DOF’s Corporate Affairs Group (CAG), in her Sept. 5 letter to Aquino.