Rice import bidding hit

MANILA, Philippines – Importers and farmers’ cooperatives protested yesterday alleged irregularities in the scheduled awarding of tariff-free rice import permits issued by the National Food Authority (NFA).

The program involves the tax-free importation of 200,000 metric tons of rice to be allocated to importers from Metro Manila (125,000 MT) and Cebu (75,000 MT).

Sources said the importation of 200,000 MT or 4 million bags of well milled white rice could be worth P4 billion at P1,000 per bag tax-free.

Import permits, if resold, could net winning importers picked by the NFA up to P1 billion.

The source said if the government would collect tax from the importation, it could take in P2 billion since tariff for rice importation is now at P500 per bag or 50 percent of purchase price.

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