President Duterte yesterday placed a 60-day price cap on pork and chicken products in Metro Manila to address rising prices and ensure continued access to the said food items.
The President, in Executive Order No. 124 on February 1, placed the maximum prices of kasim and pigue part at P270 per kilogram (kg); liempo at P300 per kg. and dressed chicken, P160 per kg.
The price cap shall take effect immediately upon publication in the Official Gazette or a newspaper of general circulation and shall be in effect for 60 days.
Duterte said the decision to impose the price cap stemmed from the recommendation of the Department of Agriculture.
Duterte in signing the EO recognized the reduced supply of pork due to the African swine fever had contributed to the supply and prices of pork in the market and said this caused “undue burden to Filipinos, especially the underprivileged and marginalized… it is imperative to ensure that basic necessities are adequate, affordable and accessible to all.
At a hearing of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Secretary Ramon Lopez of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said the agency has proposed to the DA the imposition of wholesale suggested retail prices (SRP) on key agriculture products as a long-term solution to the uncontrolled increase in prices attributed to traders.
Lopez said he recommends the wholesale SRP to cover traders for transparency on costs throughoutut the supply chain. This way, monitoring and compliance from farmgate to retail will be easier.
In a text message, DTI Undersecretary Ruth Castelo this proposal stands even after the issuance of EO as this is more of a policy direction that the DA may consider.
Castelo said the DA could start with pork and later expand to other products like chicken, fish and vegetables which are very cost sensitive.
As January 28, the retail price of pork kasim is at a high of P420 per kg and a low of P330 per kg. and a prevailing price of P360 per kg while pork liempo is at a high of P430 per kg but at a low of P350 per kg and prevailing at P400 per kg. Chicken is stable at a high P200 per kg with a low of P150 per kg and prevailing at P180 per kg.
No to tariff cuts
In the same hearing, DA Secretary William Dar said the price cap will also be supported by subsidies for the transport of hogs from raisers in Visayas and Mindanao.
Senate committee on agriculture and food chairman Cynthia Villar, however, said senators are opposing DA’s proposal to lower tariffs on pork imports and to increase shipments under the minimum access volume (MAV).
Villar said the government should not tinker with tariff rates and volumes and revenues to be generated on imports should be used to support local hog raisers, similar to what was done in rice.
The DA earlier proposed to the Tariff Commission the lowering of tariff on pork within the MAV to five percent in the first six months and to 10 percent in the succeeding six months from the current 30 percent.
It recommended for the tariff of pork outside MAV to be lowered to 15 percent in the first six months and 20 percent in the succeeding six months from the current 40 percent.
The DA also plans to triple the volume of import of pork under MAV from the current 54,000 metric tons. (with J. Macapagal and I. Isip)