Wednesday, April 9, 2008

On Rice Shortage

- the tales and the dilemma that goes with it

The government is firm on stating that there is no rice shortage where as Secretary Arthur Yap mention that there is 90% sufficient with 58 days allowance as seconded by Lorelie Fajardo, Deputy Speaker during her interview with Probe. But despite of this affirmation from President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, we witness several incidents of panic buying, product hording and price inflation not to mention instances if pest that plauge our farms where we harvest our rice.

The tales...

Stories has to sides and with the government claims that we should not panic because we sufficient yet they lifted the quota on rice imports. But the claim doesn't justify on what we are seeing on television and for others who experiencing now the panic in buying rice. In areas like in Legaspi City, it feels like you are in the process of voting, after buying NFA rice from the rolling stores of the government you are only require to consume 3 kilos of rice per day and along with it you need to be inked just like after voting. Cedula or ID is the initial requirements in buying NFA rice in Baguio City, where their aim is to sell rice alone for there Baguio City residence, same in Legazpi 3 kilos per day quota.
But quota doesn't hinders buyers in Commonwealth Market to buy larger amount of rice by bringing their family members to join the long line of consumers’ buying rice amounting 18.25 pesos per kilo, half the price of the commercial rice or more than half as inflation takes place each day.

With the lifting of quota on rice import, Paeng Mariano of Buklurang Magsasaka ng Pilipinas, he mention that “kawawa ang mga magsasaka dahil ang produsyon ng bigas ay sumasalalay na lang sa mga iniimport ng bansa, habang ang seguridad natin sa ating mga kinakain ay nawawala” he affirms the we are not sure on the quality on the rice we importing from country. Quirino Martinez of Consumers Union, he agrees with Paeng’s stand but Quirino mention that we should act first on the present needs of the people in short term.

The dilemma...

We witness how the buyers panic on buying rice which tends to household hoarding. Along with other product that affects inflation, basing on my economic class before, the higher demand of consumers which takes place on panic buying, it triggers on scarcity or lacking of products needed by consumers, it leads on the increase of price. Just like survival of the fittest. Not only rice is increasing on price for commercial rice and the shortage on low price NFA rice, it also includes our basic needs like sugar, oil, corn, flour and other. Speaking of flour, Juan dela Cruz'z pandesal is in the dilemma of shrinking again or its price increase. The supply of flour in the international market increases due to shortage of wheat. And the dilemma shall start on April 15.

Some says that this crisis will extend until 2010, as other political analysts mention that the government is riding on the clamor of shortage which is the easy way to set political scandals aside for the meantime including the on going battle cry on the probing for the ZTE Broadband Deal, Spratly, Hadjin Condominium approval in Subic Bay Metropolitan Center’s protected environment area, and other connected issues on PGMA, her family and his cabinet members. According to Representative Carlos Padilla of Nueva Ecija, he mentions that the event in Africa is already set before the rice crisis came in and there is a budget allotted to it.

Is there a light?

The Catholics Bishop Conference of the Philippines or CBCP extended their help to the government in selling and moderating the number of buying consumption of the buyers that tends to hordes. And eleven members of the congress lead by the former House Speaker Jose De Venecia and nine members of the Senate including Senator Nene Pimentel are going on an Inter-Parliamentary Union Conference on South Africa, which includes topic on poverty. And despite of the aim of the event, the issue on the amount that the Senate and Congress is shelling out for the event is becoming an issue where per head will cost more than a 300,000 pesos worth of expenses.

Now several fast food chains are joining on a campaign of rice conservation, campaign such as they are selling half rice. And the government states that they will track down corruption on the basic commodity which is rice and other basic needs.

I agree with Benjamin Diokno’s statement, “Ang tingin ko sa problema natin sa bigas ay mabigat at hindi ito gawa gawa lang, at hindi totoong malakas ang ekonomiya natin.” Which is I am seeing right now that it is a black eye for the administration who is an economist that we are facing the problem on shortage on rice and more on food crisis. Where will this crisis leads us, I hope there will no more political intervention, target first the real problem instead of political gains, on the topic of rice shortage I neither stand as administration or opposition. Resolve how Juan dela Cruz feed himself and his family rather than bickering and issues concerning political gains and solve the issue on inflation and blowing population.

Image courtesy of Bandila (on TFC Now)

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