MANILA - The government will tap private suppliers for rice imports, instead of entering into government-to-government agreements, in a bid to increase competitiveness and transparency.
Cabinet Secretary Jun Evasco said the National Food Authority Council has agreed to shift from government-to-government agreements to a government-to-private procurement scheme for importing 250,000 tons of rice.
"While the council recognizes there is an immediate need to augment the NFA's buffer stock by activating NFA's 250,000 metric ton standby authority to import, it has decided to shift from a government-to-government scheme to a tender scheme a.k.a government to private scheme," Evasco said.
Evasco, who chairs the NFA Council, earlier accused some NFA officials of "making a cash cow out of government-led rice importations." The NFA management has denied any wrongdoing.
Evasco added that under the government-to-private scheme the NFA Council will divide 250,000 metric tons into 8-10 tranches with a 25,000 to 5000 MT cap per lot to ensure competition and fairness.
"In order to avoid oversupply and in anticipation of harvest season, the council has decided to let private sector importation arrive in tranches," he said.
Delivery will also arrive in tranches, from July 31 until the last week of September. The rice imports will no longer arrive at the Subic Freeport Zone, but will be diverted to Zamboanga City instead.
"Only the total cost is required for the bidders to bid out. Other expenses such as cost of freight, logistics and insurance will no longer be revealed since these details are considered trade secret. Revealing such information will give unscrupulous traders and government officials idea on which costs to pad or adjust," Evasco said.
Payment terms will also be reduced to 15 days from the previous 365 days.
The NFA Council will select and approve the members of the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC), with DBP and farmer representatives designated as observers in the BAC meetings.
"With these changes being in place, the Council is confident that it is being faithful to its foremost duty, that amid the lean season, it is able to secure fair pricing and affordable yet quality rice for every Filipino household," Evasco said. -- with a report from Pia Gutierrez