MANILA (Commodity Online): Philippines is likely to grant permission to private firms to import up to 150,000 tons rice apart from its previous allocation of 200,000 tons due to the increased demand, said an official on Monday.

NFA is considering additional quantity of 100,000 to 150,000 tons for private sector importation due to the overwhelming response from them, spokesman for the state-run National Food Authority (NFA).

The rice imports would be free from tariff, and is separate from a government announcement last month that the private sector could ship in 163,000 tonnes rice.

The NFA said in a note it has given the allocation to farmers' organizations and other private sector importers, with delivery of the grain scheduled no later than Aug. 15.
The country purchased 2.27 million tons of rice from four tenders last year, including re-orders, with bulk of them from Vietnam.

Including the private sector import volume, the Philippines' rice purchases for its 2010 supply would reach 2.44 million tons, exceeding the previous record of 2.3 million tons in 2008, which helped drive grain prices to all-time highs.

NFA has the sole authority to import rice in the country, but it has permitted private firms to bring in the grain since 2002 to curb smuggling.

For this year's allocation, NFA said private importers can source up to 98,000 tons from Thailand, 25,000 tons from China, 25,000 tons from India and 15,000 tons from Australia.