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Impending rice shortage best argument against slashing NFA subsidy – Anakbayan

September 29, 2010

“Removing the NFA rice subsidy at a time when global rice prices are expected to soar is a sure-fire recipe for social disaster”

This was the warning of Anakbayan spokesperson Charisse Bañez following reports that the rice prices in the world market are expected to soar next year following a spate of natural calamities.

Earlier, President Noynoy Aquino has announced that NFA funds for subsidizing ‘NFA rice’, which compose the bulk of the agency’s requested P15 billion budget next year, will be removed. The agency uses the money to purchase ‘palay’ from farmers at P17 per kilo (P10-11 higher than what commercial traders offer) and sell them at P25 per kilo, lower than the P30-P40 per kilo price of private traders.

The NFA has warned that there might be an increase in rice prices in the coming months due to an expected drop in the rice production of many rice-exporting countries stricken by calamities. South Asian country Pakistan has been hit by the worst flooding it has seen in decades, while Southeast Asian nations Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos are experiencing droughts and erratic rainfall.

“With imports currently accounting for a significant share of our annual rice consumption, we will certainly affected by these developments” said Bañez.

She cited data from the NFA which showed that in 2006, imports made up 12.4% of all of the rice consumed by Filipinos that year, up from 7.2% in 1990.

“President Aquino, our Sept. 24 walkout will look like a dinner party compared to the possible unrest a new rice crisis might bring. If he has any sense left, he will strengthen the NFA and desist from removing the agency’s rice subsidy” warned the youth leader.

Thousands of students nationwide walked out of their classes last Friday to protest education budget cuts in next year’s proposed national budget.

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