The Bureau of Customs (BOC) is not the cause of delay in release of rice shipments from Philippine ports, according to Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapeña in a recent statement.
“To set the record straight, I would like to clarify that there is no delay in the customs clearance of rice imports in all ports. In fact, I have ordered all district collectors to expedite the processing of essential food such as rice, sugar, pork, and chicken to aid the supply issue,” Lapeña said.
The statement came after reports stating that the spike in rice prices was caused by delays in the release of rice shipments by BOC.
Lapeña explained, however, that the “customs clearance procedure cannot be completed without the corresponding import permit from the National Food Authority (NFA) pursuant to NFA Memorandum Circular No. AO-2018-05-001.”
He stressed the importance of the timely submission to BOC of the NFA import permits.
The customs chief said he sent a letter dated September 10 to NFA and its mother agency, Department of Agriculture (DA), “to expedite the release of the import permits since it cannot be released on our end without such permit.”
“NFA permits must be secured prior to the arrival of the rice shipments to the country; however, some importers would comply with the requirement on the date of arrival or even three to five days after the arrival of their rice shipments. If only NFA permits were submitted to the bureau before the arrival of these shipments, then an efficient and faster customs clearance process can be made,” Lapeña explained.
“Prompt issuance of import permits by the NFA coupled by timely submission to the Bureau of Customs will in effect make customs clearance of rice shipments on schedule,” he added.
“I, together with the men and women of the Bureau of Customs, [am] with the President in alleviating the current situation on the supply and price hike in our country’s staple grain,” Lapeña said.
The BOC chief assured the public that his agency will closely coordinate with private and public partners so as to be ready for the influx of cargoes for the holidays.
“We hope that in the coming months, the price of basic commodities will stabilize,” Lapeña said.