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Lawmaker urges gov't to unload P1.4-B smuggled rice to soften prices

July 21, 2013 11:38am
A lawmaker is urging government to unload its large inventory of impounded smuggled rice, worth some P1.4 billion, to soften the staple's price, which has temporarily gone up by P2 per kilo due to seasonal factors.

“Government should draw on some 600,000 sacks of confiscated rice to thwart any upward pressure on prices,” said LPG-MA Rep. Arnel Ty, House trade and industry committee member.

“Right now, these highly perishable sacks of seized rice from Vietnam are just wasting away,” he said in a press release on Sunday.

His remarks came shortly after the Bureau of Customs (BOC) reported the theft of at least 100 sacks of smuggled rice stashed in a container yard at the Cebu International Port.

Ty is counting on the Department of Finance (DOF) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) to resolve the impasse over the disposition of smuggled rice shipments.

The sacks of smuggled rice are in the custody of the BOC, which is under the supervision of the DOF. The Customs claimed, however, it has no choice but to sell the contraband at a competitive public auction.

But the National Food Authority (NFA), which is under the DA, has offered to buy the sequestered rice at a negotiated price.

“The NFA should be allowed to purchase the rice from the BOC under an agency-to-agency contract. Then the NFA should turn around and release the rice into the open market. This will boost supply and ease prices,” Ty said.

An agency-to-agency agreement would be an acceptable mode of government procurement under the law, subject to certain conditions, according to the Department of Justice.

“The purchase price is not that big a deal. Government will merely be transferring money from one pocket to another,” Ty said. — LBG, GMA News
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