By Madelaine B. Miraflor
The government will squeeze in three bidding process in the span of more than a month for the importation of additional 750,000 metric tons (MT) of rice, a move that should force the National Food Authority (NFA) to release billions worth of fund for the said overseas purchases amid its ballooning debt.
NFA Spokesman Rex Estoperez said the agency hopes to finish all the bidding process for the importation of 750,000 MT of rice by the first week of November so that supply could start coming in weeks before December.
It was just more than a week since the NFA Council, the highest policy making body of NFA, has given the green light for the importation of additional 500,000 MT of rice, which will be on top of the recently approved importation of 250,000 MT of rice through an open tender scheme.
These additional imports were supposed to help temper the non-stop increase in the price of local rice as well as replenish the stocks of NFA, which was recently forced to release a lot of NFA rice to the areas that were badly hit by Typhoon Ompong, the strongest typhoon to hit the country in years as far as the farm sector is concerned.
“We will slice the 750,000 MT into three [bidding]. On October 18, we will bid out the first 250,000 MT. Then two weeks after that, we will bid out the next 250,000 MT. After that, we will bid out another 250,000 MT,” Estoperez said on Wednesday.
What is important, according to Estoperez, is that stocks would also start arriving by November.
NFA’s debt as of now stands at more than P130 billion. This is expected to increase amid all the pending importation.
For the importation of the first 250,000 MT of rice, which will be done through an open tender scheme, NFA allotted a budget of nearly P6 billion. The pre-bid conference for this is scheduled today.