NEDA chief and socio-economic planning secretary Karl Kendrick Chua. (Photo from NEDA)
By Tracy Cabrera
MANILA — Reiterating the need for higher pork imports along with the lower tariffs for the same as it could quickly temper the spike in meat prices, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said that meat has been persistently the top contributor to inflation this year, hence the need to temporarily augment our pork supply through importation.
Citing data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), socio-economic planning secretary Karl Kendrick Chua noted how the 57.7 percent inflation in pork remained as the top contributor for the 22.1 percent meat inflation in April.
“Retaining the status quo will cause 100 million Filipinos to suffer longer from high food prices,” Chua pointed out.
According to the NEDA chief, price stability and food security must be the top priority with the ongoing pandemic, and that this move will allow domestic hog raisers to replenish the local stock.
Still, the agency revealed that hog production in the first three months of the year went down by 26 percent, highlighting the need to augment supply, which will then stabilize prices in the local market.
In a relative development, the government’s economic managers have recently come into terms with lawmakers with the proposed increase in minimum access volume or MAV for pork imports.
From the previous 404,000 metric tons (MT), the MAV was agreed to be scaled back at 254,210 MT.
Tariff rates were also adjusted from the original 5 percent to 10 percent for those within MAV and 20 percent from the previous 15 percent for those outside MAV, effective for the first three months before raising it to 15 and 25 percent respectively for the remaining nine months.
Agriculture secretary William Dar said that this adjustment is necessary in order to arrest high pork prices and that they are currently working on measures to help the industry recover from the African Swine Fever’s impact.
“Given that we have reached a compromise, we will act without delay to reflect the features of the compromise in a corresponding executive issuance,” Dar explained.
“We appreciate the quick resolution of this issue. A problem of this scale, especially when incomes and job opportunities have declined, needs immediate and urgent action,” he concluded. (AI/MTVN)