TO AUGMENT SUPPLY, BRING DOWN PRICES: Zero tariff on pork imports sought

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    The Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (PAMPI) is seeking the elimination of tariffs on pork imports to immediately bring down prices brought by the shortage in local supply.

    In a letter to the Department of Agriculture (DA), Felix Tiukinhoy Jr., PAMPI president, said emergency measures including the temporary lifting of tariff can ease the current tight supply and high prices of pork.

    Tiukinhoy said hog farmers and producers registered with the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) could be authorized to directly import up to 50,000 metric tons of pork and more if necessary, at zero tariff.

    Tiukinhoy said the Land Bank of the Philippines can also provide financing or trade credit to qualified hog raisers or producers at concessional rates.

    The group said government could also temporarily allow the sale of frozen meat products in public markets during the duration of the shortage.

    “The (proposals are) intended to provide fiscal support to hog farmers and producers to afford them the opportunity to generate income and compensate for huge losses arising from the ASF (African swine fever) decimation of their hog farms… Our recommendation, we believe, is a much better way of alleviating the plight of the hog sector at no cost to the government rather than giving them financial dole-outs,” Tiukinhoy said.

    He added it is not unusual for producers to import goods in emergency situations.

    BAI data showed the country imported a total of 256,017,459 kilograms (kg) of pork last year, of which more than 20 percent or 52,320,948 kg. entered under minimum access volume (MAV) while the remaining 203,696,511 kg. were outside MAV.

    Spain supplied bulk of the pork imports at 77,423,506 kg. or 30 percent, followed by Canada with 45,282,945 kg or 17.6 percent and the United States with 44,559,399 kg or 17.4 percent.

    Pork shipments under MAV are charged 30 percent tariff while those outside the program are slapped with 40 percent.

    DA Secretary William Dar said in an online briefing yesterday PAMPI’s proposals will be discussed with the Committee on Tariff and Related Matters

    Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the National Bureau of Investigation is ready to assist the DA and the Department of Trade and Industry in monitoring wholesalers and traders who may have contributed to the high prices of pork in the local market.

    “We have not received any formal request for assistance from them but we are ready to help,” Guevarra said in a text message.

    Earlier, Dar blamed traders and wholesalers for the skyrocketing pork prices, hitting P400 per kg.

    Labor groups such as the Partido ng Manggagawa and the Associated Labor Unions have decried the exorbitant prices not only of pork but also of vegetables saying that pork prices are beyond the buying capacity of minimum wage earners.

    The legislated minimum daily wage in the National Capital Region is P537 though the groups said when adjusted to inflation, it goes down to P434.

    They said prices of cabbage, eggplant, ampalaya, string beans and even galunggong have also gone up in recent days making life for ordinary workers that much harder.

    The official order for the price freeze is expected to be released within the week.

    The caps, which are recommended to be in place for 60 days, are P270 per kg for kasim and pigue, P300 per kg for liempo and P160 per kg for chicken.  (With Ashzel Hachero)