Purge Gov’t list of rice importers, traders
Full disclosure, transparency key to dismantling rice cartel, says Imee
Replacement of import quotas with tariffs would not dismantle the rice cartels in the country, according to Ilocos Norte Governor Imee R. Marcos. “The government rosters of rice importers and traders must be purged of smugglers, economic saboteurs, hoarders, and tax evaders.”
Gov. Marcos, who is running for senator in next year’s midterm elections, said it would “still be business as usual” for the rice cartel because they control the underlying system and internal architecture of rice importation and distribution. “Their control of that system is not addressed by any of the bills on rice tariffication,” she said.
“Revoking their licenses and permits to import rice will deal a serious blow to the rice cartels,” Ms. Marcos said.
She added that the rice cartel members are able to operate with impunity because their identities are hidden from public view—locked in drawers, file cabinets, computers and brains of several government officials and employees,” Gov. Marcos said.
She lamented that the lists or registries of licensed or accredited rice importers and traders are not front page material on the websites of the NFA, the Bureau of Plant Industry, Bureau of Customs, DTI, and BIR—the five agencies which are supposed to have those lists and supporting documents.
“We are already in the 21st Century. It is time to bring those names out of the shadows through transparent and verifiable full disclosure on the website of the Department of Agriculture of the names, executives, and contact numbers and electronic records of all transaction details of all rice importers and traders, as well as their freight forwarders and warehouses,” the Ilocos Norte governor said.
She called for a rigorous vetting process, with the crucial involvement of civil society watchdog organizations, that will purge of the lists of rice importers and traders.
The Ilocos Norte governor called for a detailed audit and forensic examination of all the processes and documents in the rice importation cycle.
Ms. Marcos said one rare time the Department of Finance revealed the names of the companies, cooperatives, and other entities that import rice was way back in 2013. (P.R)