IBON Media Release / 3 May 2011
IBON Foundation, Inc., IBON Center 114 Timog Avenue, Quezon City Philippines
Phone: (632) 927-6986/927-7060 to 62|Fax: 929-2496| E-mail: email@example.com
NO MORE P25/KL RICE IN THE MARKET
RICE PRICE MONITORING GROUP URGES HALT TO NFA PRIVATIZATION
Bantay Bigas, a rice price monitoring group comprised of rice industry
multistakeholders recently urged the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to stop
pushing for the privatization of the National Food Authority in face of an
increasing trend in the price of rice, the country's staple.
To counter ADB claims that the price of rice dropped by 0.9% since June 2010,
the group cited Bureau of Agriculture Statistics data showing that rice prices
in fact increased by an average of 1.2% for all rice grades. The price of NFA
rice also went up by Php 2.00 or 8% in December 2010. Thus, the P25 per-kilo
NFA rice is no longer available in the market, further making the staple less
affordable to poor Filipinos.
"The increase in the price of NFA rice is an impact of government's plan to
privatize the country's food agency in response to conditions imposed by the
ADB and other international lending institutions," Bantay Bigas spokesperson
Lita Mariano said. Among several such loans the group noted the 1993 Food
Sector Loan Program and the 1999 Grains Sector Development Program of the ADB
which both pushed for NFA privatization including the privatization of the
NFA's local palay procurement and rice importation functions as well as the
increase of the price of NFA rice.
"The ADB itself revealed in a study that increases in food prices push more
Filipinos into poverty, therefore it should stop pushing for the privatization
of the NFA and instead support the agency in fulfilling its mandate of
ensuring distribution of the basic staple at affordable prices," Mariano said.
According to the ADB, a 10% hike in local food prices would add 1.37 million
to the ranks of the poor, and even higher food price increases would push even
more into poverty.
Bantay Bigas, of which IBON is a secretariat member, is set to launch this
month a transcript of the National Rice People's Congress (NPRC) which it held
last February. The NPRC highlights summative reports of consultative exchanges
it held with various rice industry multistakeholders in Luzon, Vizayas and
Mindanao. It also yielded a unity pact by participants, one urgent demand of
which is bringing back to the market the Php18.25 per kilo NFA rice and
increasing the NFA's palay procurement by restoring its budget of at least
Php8 million. (end)