Senator Win Gatchalian is pushing for the abolition of the National Food Authority (NFA) to spare taxpayers from the burden of subsidizing the “inefficient and unproductive” operations of the embattled agency.
“lsa sa mga problemang nakikita ko kaya kulang ang supply at mataas ang presyo ng bigas ay iyong operations ng NFA. Hindi maayos at hindi nagagampanan ang responsibilidad nito,” said Gatchalian, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs.
The senator pointed out the NFA has become “a liability to the government” after its revenue continues to drop every year. Financial data shows that NFA’s revenue shrank 38 percent to ₱17.93 billion in 2017, from ₱29.3 billion in 2016. NFA’s losses, on the other hand, swelled to ₱150 billion.
Meanwhile, the Bureau of Treasury reported that the NFA was the biggest recipient of subsidies provided to government owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) in June 2018. Record shows that the treasury department allocated ₱5.2 billion of the total ₱9.72 GOCC subsidy released that month for NFA’s food security program.
The Commission on Audit (COA), however, has called out the NFA for using GOCC subsidy funds to settle outstanding debts, saying the funds were intended “specifically to stabilize the price and supply of rice and corn.”
“Taxpayers continue to shoulder the losses that NFA despite its consistent failure to fulfill its mandate to stabilize the market price of rice so that every Filipino family will be able to put enough rice on their plates. It’s time to abolish this unproductive agency and put taxpayers’ money to better use,” he added.
The lawmaker threw his support behind the recommendation of the country’s economic managers to let market forces determine rice prices instead, which he believes will make the country’s foremost staple food more affordable for all.
Gatchalian also reiterated his call for the passage of his Senate Bill No. 1839, which aims to replace quantitative restrictions on rice with a reasonable tariff to make the country’s rice producing provinces more competitive.
The measure would also give the President elbow room to adjust tariff rates on imported rice, to regulate rice exports, and to impose special rice safeguards to ensure food security for Filipinos.