Import-boosted rice stocks will be enough to counter the inflationary impact of an expected El Niño, a senior Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) official said.
The weather phenomenon, central bank Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo told reporters last last week, “is one important factor but remember that the National Food Authority (NFA) Council already approved out-quota importation.”
He was responding to a query if the Bangko Sentral’s reuduced 2019 inflation rate forecast of 3.07 percent had factored in the impact of droughts on rice supply and prices.
Guinigundo noted that as of January 18, 174 firms and cooperatives had already applied for permits to import about 1.2 million metric tons (MMT) of rice.
“If there is going to be an El Niño phenomenon that could happen any time during the year, this could be addressed by such mitigant as out-quota importation,” he said.
“In other words, during El Niño, there’s a good fallback position in terms of out-quota importation,” he added.
Latest government data showed that total rice stocks were up 11.40 percent to 2.55 MMT as of the start of the year. The tally, however, was down 6.23 percent from 2.72 MMT in the previous month.
Rice stocks in commercial warehouses climbed by 40.59 percent to 1.21 MMT but stocks in households and NFA depositories fell by 5.88 percent to 1.25 MMT and 8.37 percent to 97,910 MT, respectively.