TACLOBAN CITY — Rice traders in Eastern Visayas are given until next week to fully comply with the suggested retail prices (SRP) for the staple, an official of the National Food Authority (NFA) said on Tuesday.
NFA-Eastern Visayas assistant regional manager Raymond Tafalla admitted that some traders defy the new SRP since they still have old stocks of rice bought at higher prices.
“The maximum is two weeks after the launch in Ormoc City last November 9. We don’t want to hear this excuse of old stocks again. We have deployed our staff to conduct an inventory of existing stocks in private warehouses,” Tafalla told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in a mobile phone interview.
The central government on Friday began enforcing the SRP for rice in cities and provinces nationwide. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol led the provincial launch in Ormoc City.
In consultation with rice industry stakeholders, the following SRP were set: regular milled rice (local), P39 per kg.; well-milled rice (local), P44 per kg.; premium rice (local), P47 per kg.; well-milled rice (imported), P39 per kg.; and premium rice (imported), P43 per kg.
To raise awareness on the SRP for rice, the NFA regional office will launch the program in six provinces of the region. The first is on Wednesday in Northern Samar.
Starting Nov. 23, the NFA regional will impose sanctions against traders and retailers not complying with the SRP set for both local and imported rice sold in the market.
Sanctions include a written warning on the first offense and for succeeding offenses, the violators could suffer penalties of a jail term of between four months and four years and a penalty of between PHP2,000 and PHP1 million. The NFA will also cancel their licenses to engage in rice trading and retailing.
NFA Acting Administrator Tomas Escarez warned that starting next week, NFA officials who will fail to enforce the SRP for rice in their respective areas will be relieved immediately and placed on floating status.
“NFA provincial managers who will fail to implement the SRPs will be subject to a one-strike policy while regional directors will similarly be subjected to administrative sanctions, including relief from their posts,” Escarez said in his speech in during the SRP launch in Ormoc City.
The central government came up with SRP for rice as the prices of the staple surged to record high this year.