The National Food Authority (NFA) policy body agreed this year to the additional import of rice because prices for rice continue to rise.
After a meeting on Tuesday, an official from the NFA said his council had given the green light to buy 250,000 metric tons (MT) of rice this year as part of an open tendering procedure.
Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco described earlier open tender as "more competitive, least corrupt and transparent." Private suppliers may participate in the bidding and fall under the procurement legislation.
This is in contrast to a government-to-government procurement where there is no bid, although this is considered the fastest way to import rice.
In total, imports of rice for this year will amount to 750,000 tons. This already includes the half million tons of imported imports earlier this year. Last week, 133,500 MT rice was also approved to tackle the shortage of rice in the Zambasulta (Zamboanga, Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi) region under the private sector.
NFA administrator Jason Aquino, head of the agency's executive board, originally asked to import 500,000 tons of rice, but the council decided to approve only half of the volume with the remaining 250,000 tons of "stand-by for next year" .
NFA spokesman Rex Estoperez said that the only way for the grain agency to influence rice prices was to flood the market with affordable rice, something the NFA had not done given the delays in the import schedules and shipments.
The subsidized rice price based on P27 and P32 a kilo, depending on the variant, is considered the only delay for poor Filipino consumers of the current prices of commercial rice, which have reached an average highest peak of P43 per kilo.
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