Filipinos as­sured of cheap rice in ‘4 weeks’


MANILA: Filipinos, es­pe­cially the poor who have been hurt­ing from the un­abated in­crease in the prices of ba­sic food items, es­pe­cially rice, would soon get a break in “three to four weeks” with the gov­ern­ment flood­ing the mar­ket with cheap im­ported ce­real.

This was an­nounced by the gov­ern­ment-run Na­tional Food Au­thor­ity (NFA) which said that with the pro­jected lood­ing of the mar­ket, the Filipinos would no longer have to line up for cheap rice, the sta­ple food of the 120 mil­lion Filipinos.

“We are wait­ing for an­other im­por­ta­tion of 230,000 met­ric tonnes plus our in­ven­tory. Maybe by that time, prices will go down. That’s what we are ex­pect­ing in two weeks to one month from now...that prices would soften,” said Rex Estop­erez, the NFA spokesman.

Estop­erez ex­plained the NFA has al­ready in­creased its par­tic­i­pa­tion in the mar­ket from 13 to 20 per cent, mean­ing the re­lease of 128,000 bags of rice per day from the pre­vi­ous 76,000 at the low­est price of 45 US cents per kilo­gramme.

To fur­ther help sta­bilise prices and sup­ply, the gov­ern­ment is set to im­port an­other 750,000mt of rice this year, ac­cord­ing to Estop­erez.

Rice, or the lack of it has be­come a ma­jor po­lit­i­cal is­sue that led to the down­fall of gov­ern­ments in the past.

In a re­cent sur­vey con­ducted by pri­vate poll­ster Pulse Asia irst week of Sep­tem­ber, 63 per cent of the Filipinos said the most press­ing con­cern that the gov­ern­ment should re­solve is in­la­tion that reached 6.4 per cent in Au­gust, con­sid­ered the high­est in nine year.

In­la­tion saw the un­abated in­crease in the prices of ba­sic items like rice, meat, ish, chicken and veg­eta­bles that went be­yond the reach of es­pe­cially of poor Filipinos.

Me­dia also re­ported ear­lier that se­nior cit­i­zens and the poor have to wake up early daily so they could join the line in the pub­lic mar­kets and buy cheap gov­ern­ment im­ported rice but lim­ited to just ive kilo­grammes each.

Mala­canang Palace through Harry Roque, the pres­i­den­tial spokesman, as­sured that con­trol­ling in­la­tion is the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion’s top pri­or­ity as he said: “We no­ticed that Filipinos are re­ally con­cerned with ris­ing prices.”

“We recog­nise the prob­lem of ris­ing prices but our as­sur­ance is Pres­i­dent Duterte is not ne­glect­ing it,” Roque added in a mix of Filipino and English.

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