Government hit over conflicting statements on NFA

MANILA– Food security advocates on Sunday urged President Benigno Aquino III to bare his plans for the cash-strapped National Food Authority amid the overpriced rice importation controversy.

Comparing the statements of Aquino and Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, the Task Force Food Sovereignty said both officials gave conflicting views as to the future of the agency.

The group said Aquino was reportedly pushing for reforms at the NFA while Abad batted for the abolition of the agency as three of its functions may be devolved.

In his proposal, Abad said the NFA’s subsidy function can be best done by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) through the conditional cash transfer program.

The function of procuring rice from farmers will be done by the private sector as “there’s an emerging consensus” to bring them in the rice trade, while the agency’s regulatory function on trading, Abad said, can be transferred to a unit in the Department of Agriculture.

“We welcome his (Aquino) statement that the NFA be reformed because we have been demanding it from him since his first day in office. However, our farmer members are now confused with the conflicting statement of Secretary Abad and the seemingly oblivious Administrator (Angelito) Banayo,” Arze Glipo, TFFS lead convener said.

rLast week, Banayo was surprised to hear about Abad’s proposal from the press, adding that he was informed by the President that there was no plan to shut down the agency.(Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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