Vietnamese firm did not bribe to win Filipino rice deal, official says

By Phan Hau, Thanh Nien News

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Vietnam’s agricultural ministry on Friday denied an allegation that state-owned company Vinafood had paid kickbacks to Philippines officials to win a contract for supplying 800,000 tons of rice in April.
A report on the Philippine daily Inquirer early this month alleged that senior agricultural officials of the Philippines facilitated the rice importation deal from Vinafood which later paid them "handsomely in illegal kickbacks."
Ha Cong Tuan, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam, told the press that the ministry has yet to receive any official claims from the Philippines related to the issue.
Tuan said both gereral directors of two Vietnamese companies, namely Vinafood 1 and Vinafood 2, which had participated in the April rice tender to report on the case.
“Both of them affirmed that their companies hadn’t paid bribes to Philippines officials,” Tuan said.
Vinafood 1 and 2 offered the lowest prices during the tender held by the NFA on April 15 to supply a total of 800,000 tons of rice between May and August.

Vietnam is set to ship 800,000 tons of rice to the Philippines between May and August. Photo: Ngoc Thang.
Vinafood I offered to supply 100,000 tons at US$436 per ton and another 100,000 tons at $439 per ton.
Vinafood 2 offered to sell 600,000 tons in total at prices ranging from $436.5 to $439.25 per ton.
Meanwhile, Cambodian companies offered a price of $469 and Thai companies $474 per ton.
Inquirer on June 12 quoted a complaint by the Metro Manila Vendor’s Association as saying that the freightage rate of the deal was overpriced by US$30 per ton -- the NFA rate is $54 per ton as opposed to the prevailing market price of $24 per ton.
The complaint alleged Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala and resigned National Food Authority (NFA) chief Orlan Calayag purportedly amassed US$24 million from the "midnight deal."
The Philippines said Saturday it will order additional 200,000 tons from Vietnam, boosting rice imports from this country to a total of one million tons this year as Asia’s second-biggest buyer battles retail prices that have surged to a record.

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