PH gov’t no longer pursuing 300,000 MT rice importation plan
After facing backlash from a farmers’ group, the Philippine government took a step back from its rice importation plans, completely abandoning the overseas purchase of as much as 300,000 metric tons (MT) of rice that was targeted to arrive during the lean months of July and August.
In a statement, the Philippine International Trading Center (PITC), an attached agency of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), announced on Friday that it is no longer proceeding with the planned government-to-government (G2G) importation of 300,000 MT of rice.
This, according to PITC, follows the official communication from Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar.
Though it didn’t specify the exact reason why, PITC cited developments that took place in late April as the possible basis for its decision.
“With the lifting of the rice export ban of Vietnam, we can expect more comfortable buffer stock levels moving forward,” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said in the PITC statement.
To recall, it was during the latter part of April when Vietnam said they will fulfill its rice export commitments to the Philippines via private deals weeks after its government announced that they will temporarily stop exporting rice due to COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite Vietnam’s commitment, PITC proceeded with the said G2G importation and formally opened the bidding on June 8.
However, PITC had to withhold the awarding of contracts because the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) won’t issue the P7.45 billion that is needed to bankroll the importation.
Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) then said that PITC should just abandon the said importation amid the financial and legal issues it is facing.
To recall, FFF already questioned before the legality of PITC’s planned importation, citing the Rule 6.4 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL).
Such section indicates that for PITC to be able to proceed with the rice importation, there should be an official pronouncement of a rice shortage in the country as well as formal authorization of the President allowing Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and PITC to move forward with such a plan.