MANILA -- The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) warned of a possible rice shortage if importation of the commodity is deferred until harvest season is over.
NEDA Secretary General Ernesto Pernia contradicted the position of the Department of Agriculture stopping rice imports while Filipinos farmers are still harvesting, a report by Jam Sisante on Balitanghali said on Wednesday, April 19.
"We don't have the capacity to produce enough rice. We are not really a rice-producing country. Inflation will strike," Pernia said.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said deferring rice importations for now would not stoke inflation.
"Ang sinasabi lang namin ay idefer muna dahil sasabay sa harvest," he said.
"How can a temporary deferment of importation cause inflation? Paano?" he added.
Should there be excess harvest, the price they sell it at would be too low, which means lower income for the farmers.
A group of economists are also concerned, saying rice prices will increase.
"Peligroso 'yan, sapagkat, una, baka magkamali sila o kaya ma-delay. Lalo na government' yan, may bureaucratic procedure,” said Calixto Chikiamco, president of the Foundation for Economic Reform.
The group wants to put an end to the National Food Authority monopoly on rice imports and for the private sector be able to buy the commodity from overseas. — GMA News