On Villar’s claim re smuggling figures
THIS IS a reaction to the news item titled “Villar: Gov’t turning a blind eye on rice smuggling” (Inquirer.net, 2/23/16).
According to the report, Sen. Cynthia Villar pointed out that “around 700,000 metric tons of rice (was) smuggled in the country in 2015.” This is a revelation. The volume translates to $268 million or $420 million depending on the rice variety which we assume to be the best—that is, “whole” milled rice, not “brokens” (the kind the National Food Authority or NFA imports from our Asean neighbors on G2G or government-to-government basis).
Why should low-priced and “inferior” rice be “smuggled”? Villar, the chair of the Senate committee on agriculture, did her homework. Why? And she’s not even running for any position this May 9!
To the best of my recollection, in 2015 the NFA contracted, G2G, to buy from Vietnam some 1 million metric tons (MMT) of rice— 300,000 MT in February; 250,000 MT in June; and 450,000 MT in September. But the rice exports (all grades) of Vietnam (Thailand rice stats not included) to the Philippines in 2015 reached 1.2 MMT (more than the NFA’s 1 MMT), compared to just 600,000 MT (for the same period), based on inputs from our statistics agencies, which is half of the exporting country’s reported rice export volume to the Philippines.
The 600,000 MT could change if the September shipment of 450,000 MT from Vietnam started only in late 2015 and is still to be completed in 2016. The total 2015 import volume from Thailand (a source of high-quality rice grades) and those from other eight countries most likely could raise the “smuggling” stats.
The NFA’s G2G procurements appear to be in order; “discrepancies” are attributed to nongovernment imports—thus the proposal for the NFA to have a monopoly on rice importation once again. But that could be counterproductive in view of the Asean integration.
Thanks to our “lowly” statistics agencies. Transparency is indeed at work!
When will “smuggling” in all forms be stopped, if not reduced?
—MANUEL Q. BONDAD, Makati City
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