NFA urges lifting of preventive suspensions

THE National Food Authority (NFA) called for the lifting of the preventive suspensions on NFA staff over the alleged irregular sale of rice reserves.

NFA Administrator Larry R. Lacson said that the Office of the Ombudsman said these personnel are needed to implement the agency’s programs.

“Especially those who have nothing to do with that particular transaction so that they can help. We still have many programs that must be implemented, all our manpower must be there,” he added.

In March, the Ombudsman placed 139 NFA supervisors under a six-month preventive suspension for alleged involvement in the irregular sale of rice stocks to specific traders. The order has been lifted to about 95 officials.

The unauthorized sales were executed at P25 per kilogram without proper bidding. The NFA had purchased the rice in palay (unmilled rice) form at P23 per kilo.

The suspended NFA officials and employees included 12 regional managers, 26 branch managers, and 99 warehouse supervisors, as well as former top officials.

“We made it a point that our operations are running smoothly, and we even implemented a new price even with the limited manpower we were able to swing that and hit the 100% target,” Mr. Lacson said.

The NFA Council has approved the increased buying price for palay at P23 to P30 per kilogram (kg) for dry and clean palay and P17 to P23 per kg for fresh palay.

The current NFA inventory is 136 thousand metric tons, with a target of 495 thousand MT by the end of the year.

“Less than half (has been purchased) this first half; roughly 60% of our target will be procured in the wet season harvest,” he said.

He added that the NFA is increasing its inventory target next year to 545 thousand MT.

It is proposing a budget of P16 billion next year for rice procurement.

Additionally, Mr. Lacson said that he is proposing the regular rotation of warehouse supervisors to avoid further complacency within its ranks. — Adrian H. Halili