Zero rice subsidy forces NFA to close centers-A A +A
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
WITH no rice subsidy for 2011, the National Food Authority (NFA) would have to close down some distribution centers in the provinces nationwide.
NFA Administrator Lito Banayo said the zero rice-subsidy will affect the provinces of Batanes, Cagayan, Masbate, and Aurora, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, Bohol, Cebu, areas in Eastern Visayas and Zamboanga Peninsula.
The administration earlier realigned the P8-billion rice allocation to the Department of Social and Welfare Development.
The rice-subsidy started in 2005 with P900 million allocations and continued to increase until it reached P8 billion in 2009 and 2010. However, only P2 billion was released as of this month.
“From June to present, no single cent has been released for NFA,” Banayo said.
“NFA would also incur P120.7 billion in financial debts by March next year because of the move,” he added.
Earlier, Banayo said the country is swimming in rice with some of it even spoiling because of overstocking.
The normal buffer of rice stocks is 15 days and 30 days during lean months but the current stock will last for 54 days.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said the allocation for the subsidy will always defend on the Department of Budget and Management.
The budget allocated for the Department of Agriculture (DA) stands at P38.6 billion, far less than the current budget of P50.85 billion.
Anakpawis Representative Rafael Mariano questioned the lump sum allocation for the DA amounting to P17.6 billion in funds for unclear and undetermined projects.
Included in the allocation is the P5.2 billion for the nationwide implementation of the National Rice Program, which is actually a continuation of the irregularity-laden Gintong Masaganang Ani (GMA) rice program.
Mariano said this corruption-prone agriculture budget will further worsen the rice crisis and food insecurity in the country.
“Unscrupulous rice traders operating the domestic rice cartel will have a heyday with NFA’s zero-budget and intervention in the market through unjust rice pricing and manipulation,” he concluded.(Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)