Press Releases

Salceda on P152 billion NFA cash: “Where’s the money going?;” Clean NFA ‘only way’ to get P20 rice

March 7th, 2024

House Ways and Means Chair Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district), who is also Vice Chair of the agriculture and food panel asked the National Food Authority (NFA) and the Commission on Audit (COA) to account for the P152 billion in total cash that it was supposed to have received as inflows from 2018 to 2022 through a management audit of the controversial government corporation.

During the House agriculture panel on the supposed sale of 75,000 sacks of buffer stock rice without auction, Salceda urged Congress “not to limit its investigation merely to the P93 million sale in question this year,” but to include all sales of buffer stock since the Rice Tariffication Law took effect in 2019.

“The NFA is supposed to have received a total of P85.7 billion in national government subsidies and another P66.3 billion in sales of rice stocks from 2018 to 2022. That totals to P152 billion from those five years alone,” Salceda said.

“That is additive. Even with a loss incurred of P20 billion – or the difference between the direct cost of rice and the sale of rice – that’s still P132 billion to account for,” Salceda added.

Salceda thus moved that the Committee sustain investigating not just the sale of the 75,000 sacks of rice supposedly without auction, but the management performance of the NFA from 2019 to 2023.

The Rice Tariffication Law earlier limited the NFA’s role to buffer stocking from local farmers.

Salceda however says that “in theory, the NFA should sometimes make gains, rather than merely make consistent losses, if it can auction its rice stocks.”

“The effective buying price of palay is P23 per kilo for clean or dry palay. They sell at P25 per kilo. It can, of course, be better with auctions when you sell to the private sector. Milling can be as low as P1.8 per kilo when you achieve economies of scale. So, sometimes, the NFA should really make money.”

“From selecting who mills the rice, to choosing who buys the rice, there are cracks for corruption and inefficiency. This should be subject of audit.”

“I think Secretary Tiu-Laurel is in the right direction here of cleaning up the NFA and curing its longstanding defects. The only way to get P20 rice is through the NFA. And a clean NFA is the only way to get it done without compromising the country’s finances,” Salceda said.

Salceda also asked the agriculture panel to request the COA to make a comprehensive presentation of the NFA’s finances and management practices, as well as their adverse findings, during the 2019-2023 period.

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