April 23, 2018, 12:36 am
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NFA to standardize terms of contracted services

The National Food Authority (NFA) said it will fully implement standard terms of reference (TOR) for its contracted services such as security, trucking, hauling and warehouse handling, among others, starting this month.

“The standardization of TORs for service contracts will realize a true, transparent and competitive bidding in NFA services. It is one of my priority reform measures since I assumed stewardship of the agency,” NFA administrator Jason Aquino said in a statement.

NFA said a standard TOR for security services was recently finalized and will be implemented starting this month in all its offices nationwide.

According to Aquino, contracts, memoranda of agreement and memoranda of understanding entered into by NFA’s central and field offices varied in form and content even if they were compliant with pertinent provisions of the law.

For instance, he said, every contract is covered by TOR, but TORs for similar contracts varied in the various offices of the agency.

Last year, Aquino required all NFA central office department and regional managers to submit to the agency’s Legal Affairs Department all copies of contracts entered into in 2016 and earlier, and hold the signing and execution of new contracts and agreements in order to standardize all contracts across 15 regional and 89 provincial offices nationwide. 

He also created a team to look into existing contracts and draft a uniform or standardized format and TOR for specific agreements such as services, supplies, and linkages with other government agencies, the private sector and local government units.

“As a matter of policy, I will allow partiality or bias only if it is in favor of the government,” Aquino said.

In line with the reforms, concerned NFA personnel were also required to attend seminars on the Government Procurement Law to ensure that all procurement procedures are complied.

Earlier, NFA also mentioned it will continue to build up its food security buffer stocks from domestic palay procurement and rice importation, if necessary, under a regime where quantitative restriction (QR) on rice has been lifted.

The agency made the statement following speculations that with the lifting of rice QR in favor of higher tariffs on rice imports, NFA may have to be reorganized to limit its functions to proprietary activities such as buffer stocking and local procurement.

“If the past few years are any indication, we have seen a trend where palay farmgate prices have been on the uptrend, higher than NFA’s support price of P17 per kilogram. This is the reason we have not been able to meet procurement targets, resorting to importation to fill in the buffer stock requirement for food security,” Aquino said recently.

NFA believes it will take a while before the domestic rice market would be able to adjust to the non-QR regime, but noted the government should continue to provide safety nets for farmers who may be most affected by the free entry of imported rice into the country.

NFA also said while performing buffer stock functions, it shall continue to issue import licenses and provide necessary guidelines to ensure food safety and quality standards.

QR allows the country to limit the volume of rice imports entering the Philippines with a tariff of 35 percent. Importing outside the volume restrictions will entail a higher import tariff.

The economic managers of the Duterte administration earlier decided to allow the expiration of the QR without applying for another extension before the World Trade Organization (WTO).  

The WTO granted the Philippines an extension of its QR on rice importation until June 30, 2017 to give local farmers more time to prepare for free trade.

It first allowed the Philippines to impose a 10-year QR on rice imports in 1995.  It was extended in 2004 until 2012, and was renewed again in 2014.
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