December 11, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Finance Secretary Dominguez concerned over inflationary impact of halting rice importation

FINANCE Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said he is concerned about the possible impact on inflation of any plan to halt rice imports by the National Food Authority (NFA).

“As Finance Secretary I am very interested to keep the inflation rate down particularly inflation in rice prices because it hits the poor people harder than the more affluent people,” he told reporters when asked for his view on rice imports on the sidelines of the Dutertenomics forum in Pasay City yesterday.

He said that the Department of Finance will be further studying the economic impact of the current method of procuring rice before making a recommendation.

“The NFA council just had a meeting today. I haven’t gotten a full report from the council,” he said.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte ordered the NFA to prioritize buying palay, or unmilled rice, from farmers, only importing rice when needed.

The Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF), which counts among its members prominent former technocrats, said current arrangements for rice imports have the potential to distort market forces, and also hold the potential for graft.

The NFA imports rice on a government-to-government basis from major exporters like Vietnam and Thailand. A certain quantity of imports is also permitted for private traders. -- Elijah Joseph C. Tubayan