Scientists group slams NFA privatization

THE scientist group Advocates of Science & Technology for the People (AGHAM) on Friday slammed the  Aquino government’s plan to privitize the National Food Authority which will remove its vital functions in ensuring food security and price stabilization.

“Reducing government intervention through the NFA’s mandates in the marketing and trading aspect of the rice industry leading to a privatization track will only lead to serious cases of rice crises similar in the past,” said Ms. Feny Cosico, an agriculturist and a member of AGHAM.

The reform would involve transferring the functions of providing subsidized rice to the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the regulation of grain trading to the Department of Agriculture.

“These are absurd reforms with DSWD as the lone authority in identifying indigent households while the country’s food security will be at the mercy of the private sector whose prime concern is to earn profit rather then provide social services,” according to Ms. Cosico.

The Department of Budget and Management has declared its own verdict of removing the mandates of NFA in the event of Pres. Benigno Aquino III’s expośe on the reported incurred government losses of the agency amounting to P 177 billion. Budget Seceretary Florencio Abad is hell-bent in reducing the agency’s intervention on the rice industry of the country, even calling it as a virtual monopoly referring to the NFA’s function on regulation and trading.

“PNoy’s expośe on the rice scam that transpired last year involving certain groups from Pangasinan who took advantage of the importation quotas should be dealt with legal actions. This anomaly should not be used as basis to strip the agency’s mandate and functions,” Ms. Cosico pointed out.

She also said that, “this is a systematic process of reducing state intervention by weakening government support through reduced budgetary allocations of an agency and later on declaring the agency’s inadequacy to assume the role.”

“This is the dictum of the international financial institutions such as World Bank and ADB, and the NFA’s privatization is being justified as part of the Aquino regime’s flagship public-private partnership programs,” warned Ms. Cosico.

The government has claimed that rice self-sufficiency is attainable in 2013, but AGHAM pointed this out to be a pipe dream should it continue to implement wrong policies such as bogus land reform and superficial local agricultural support, which are major roots of the crisis-ridden state of agriculture in the country. “This is plainly an oxymoron when the government commits itself to follow a straight road but its action says otherwise,” ended Ms. Cosico.

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