MANILA -- The National Food Authority (NFA) will create a systems and management audit team that will investigate the alleged anomalies in rice importation revealed by President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III in his first State of the Nation Address Monday.

NFA administrator Lito Banayo said the major objective of the audit team is to investigate the reason why the past administration had to import excessive amount of rice and make sure that somebody will be held accountable for it.

The team was tasked to investigate the following: purchase and importation protocols insofar as timing and volume; inventory system to prevent waste and spoilage of stocks; methods and procedures of selling stock to ensure they are sold efficiently; and allegations of anomalies reports of smuggling.

The NFA expects results and recommendations from the audit team within 30 to 45 days.

Appropriate actions will then be taken into consideration by the NFA, which include: change or amend procedures that are defective, add systems and fiscal safeguards, and reshuffle or remove personnel accordingly.

The NFA will also ensure that the agency will be able to perform its mandate on helping the poorest of the poor, maintain stable supply and buffer stock, maintain stability of prices, recommend remedial actions that requires presidential or department of agriculture interventions and recommend medium and long term legislative actions.

The audit team will be headed by Jesus Posadas who was a former Vice President of purchasing and trading of San Miguel Corporation.

Banayo said they chose an individual from the private sector to avoid biases in conducting the investigation.

He added that he believed Posadas is the best person to head the audit team considering his vast experience in trading and commodities.

The audit team will also be composed of lawyers and financial experts.

Banayo said they tap the help of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to assist the audit team in their investigation.

Banayo maintained that there was over importation of rice during the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

In fact, he said the country does not need to import rice this year because there are a lot of stocks in NFA warehouses.

Banayo added that the next importation will be done next year but still lesser than projected. (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)