In the News (Philippines): Rice-policy shift divides experts

(The debate on rice-policy shift in the Philippines heats up, with one side arguing for the abolition of the NFA, which provides rice-price subsidy that benefits small farmers and poor consumers, while the other side demands for increasing support to rice production through irrigation, credit and post-harvest facilities and a review of NFA governance structure that causes inefficiencies. — Admin)

ECONOMISTS on Wednesday lauded the policy shift to abandon decades-old rice-price subsidies through the National Food Authority (NFA) in favor of a more “focused” conditional cash transfer for the poor, but some experts said the state-run NFA itself should be abolished, and sought a deeper scrutiny of its over P170-billion debt.

Lawmakers expectedly rejected the proposal of scuttling the rice-price support—as strongly recommended to President Aquino by the Department of Finance—saying this would abandon the poor households to market forces.

Minus the subsidy from the national government, the NFA says cheap rice sold to the poor in “Tindahan Natin” outlets could go up by 37 percent to P25 per kilogram, from P18.25 per kilo.

“[Without the subsidy], syempre mag-a-adjust ang presyo [of course, the prices will move accordingly],” said NFA spokesman Rex Estoperez in a text message to the BusinessMirror.

Read the full story at Business Mirror

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