(UPDATE 2) MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the abolition of the inter-agency National Food Authority (NFA) council, one of his economic managers said Friday, as the government moved to ensure enough rice supply.
The NFA council, which decides on rice importation, is different from the NFA, the state grains agency. The NFA council includes representatives from the finance, trade and socioeconomic development departments and the Bangko Sentral.
"Binuwag na niya ang NFA council at ililipat niya ang NFA at iba pang ahensiya na may kaugnayan sa agrikultura na naalis sa Department of Agriculture (DA) ay babalik sa DA," Agriculture Ec. Manny Piñol told DZMM.
(Duterte abolished the NFA council and will transfer the NFA and other agriculture-related agencies back to the Department of Agriculture.)
The NFA Council under Duterte is headed by Cabinet Sec. Leoncio Evasco Jr. and administrated by former Jason Aquino, a former Scout Ranger who is also NFA administrator.
Duterte decided to abolish the council during a meeting with rice traders in Malacañang late Thursday. The meeting followed reports that the NFA was short on supply of government-subsidized rice, Piñol said.
Duterte asked businessmen not to take advantage of the lack of NFA rice in the market, Piñol said.
Starting next week, rice traders in Metro Manila committed to sell 100,000 bags a week to the NFA at P39 per kilo, until rice imports arrive, he said.
Piñol said the executive branch was looking to expand the mandate of the NFA as soon as its administration is turned over to the Department of Agriculture.
The Agriculture Department will study how the NFA can "be involved in the distribution and transport" of basic food commodities across the country, he said.