Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Gov’t guards vs rice shortfall

Palace may no longer dispose of Arroyo grains surplus due to low palay output
Manila Bulletin

Malacañang on Tuesday said Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala would have to reexamine whether the excess rice stocked in the warehouses of the National Food Authority (NFA) would be kept by the government or be disposed off after a forecast showed that the country may experience a shortage of the staple this year as palay output slid by 10.24 percent for the first semester.

“We'll have to see how much the shortfall will be and how much excess rice we have, if we can still use it. The decision on that, I think, will be made by Secretary Alcala,” Secretary Ricky Carandang of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office said in a briefing.

Earlier reports said the government intends to hand out 50,000 tons of the rice surplus to children through the “food-for-work” program and the supplemental feeding project of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in efforts to free up space in the 480 NFA warehouses.

Carandang, however, said the guidelines on the disposition of the excess rice would be known in the coming days with an order from the Executive Secretary's office.

President Benigno S. Aquino III, in his first State-of-the-Nation Address (SoNA) last July 26, accused the administration of former President and now Pampanga Rep. Glora Macapagal-Arroyo of importing more than what was needed. Some of the stocks were rotting, wasting precious government funds, he had said.

But this same “rice surplus” may serve as buffer for the Aquino government with the low palay output in the first semester.

Following Aquino’s SoNA, concerned government agencies such as the DSWD, Department of Budget and Management, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Department of Agriculture then formulated the guidelines on the disposition of the excess rice.

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