JUNE 26, 2018-RICE PRICES CONTINUE TO SOAR
Rice prices have continued to increase, due in part to the delayed distribution of imported cheap rice by the National Food Authority. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority’s monitoring report on last week prices, regular-milled and well-milled rice are selling at P40.44 and P44.13 a kilo, respectively. Compared to the same period last year, both have risen by 7.18 percent and 5.55 percent, respectively, said the PSA report released yesterday. This was the 23rd straight week that rice prices have increased, according to the PSA. In a phone interview, NFA spokesperson Rex Estoperez said retail prices of rice would likely continue to rise until there is enough cheap rice in the market. The elevated prices of rice have contributed to the acceleration of inflation, which hit 4.5 percent year-on-year in April, the fastest pace in more than five years. The NFA expects, however, rice prices to go down by at least P1 to P2 a kilo once the imported rice shipments are distributed nationwide. Based on the NFA’s original time frame, rice imports should have been distributed across the country by now, in a bid to stem the unabated increase in rice prices. The NFA said, however, that its distribution operations had been delayed by bad weather and port congestion issues. The subsidized rice is expected to improve the plight of less affluent consumers who have been suffering from rising prices of basic commodities such as rice. NFA rice variants are priced at just P27 to P32 a kilo, depending on the quality, and are consumed by some 10 million Filipinos. Another 250,000 metric tons (MT) of rice are expected to arrive from Thailand and Vietnam by July and August in preparation for the country’s lean months. The period usually runs from July to September when there is hardly any local harvest.