P1.3B pork tariff losses could have gone to fighting swine fever, uplifting small farmers, entrepreneurs, says Pangilinan

P1.3B pork tariff losses could have gone to fighting swine fever, uplifting small farmers, entrepreneurs, says Pangilinan

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — The P1.3 billion in foregone revenue from imported pork tariff could
have gone to fighting the African swine fever and also uplifting small
farmers and small entrepreneurs of the pork industry, Senator Francis
“Kiko” Pangilinan said Wednesday.

The P1.3 billion in foregone revenue was reported from April 9 to June
11 as the Philippines imported at least 76 million kilos of pork under
lower tariff on both in-quota and out-quota imports of swine meat.

The policy is contained in Executive Order 134 issued May this year
which charges 10 percent for the first three months and 15 percent in
the succeeding nine months imports within the minimum access volume
(MAV). Those outside the MAV will be slapped 20 and 25 percent,
respectively, for the first three and succeeding nine months.

“Hanggang ngayon, mataas pa rin ang presyo ng baboy, P380 per kilo ang
liempo. Ang problema ng mataas na presyo ng baboy ay nasa pagsugpo ng
African swine fever,” said Pangilinan, who filed Senate Bill 2176
seeking to create a Swine Competitiveness Enhancement Fund from pork
import tariffs.

“Kaya rin siguro nauso ang lechon baka ay dahil kasingmahal na ng
karneng baboy ang karneng baka,” he added.

Pangilinan reiterated his earlier position that slashing tariff was
not the best solution since it undermines the local pork industry and
deprives the government of needed earnings.

“What’s tragic here is when you ask around, no Filipino consumer —
whether those who shop in wet markets or supermarkets — will say that
they felt the easing of pork prices. So sino ang may ganansya sa
polisiyang ito?” he asked.

“We warned from the start that such policy is never a win-win solution
but a losing proposition to the government, the local industry, and
the consumers,” Pangilinan said.

Officials said the lower tariff aims to arrest the spiraling pork
prices due to the lack of supply as an effect of the African swine
fever that decimated a big portion of the local swine industry.

But Pangilinan said consumers continue to complain of high pork
prices, especially in wet markets.

“Mataas pa rin ang presyo ng baboy, at nitong huli pati na rin ng
isda. The lowering of pork prices was not felt by our people. What is
very evident based in government data are the revenues we did not earn
because of the slashed import duties,” he said.

With lower revenues, Pangilinan said, the government will have less
money to augment programs for the local hog raisers who badly need
support to rise from the onslaught of ASF and to be competitive
against imported pork.

The farmer-senator said the Senate will continue to keep watch on
developments and review the policy when needed to make it more
responsive to the local industry and consumers.

Malacañang earlier heeded Pangilinan’s call to declare a state of
calamity to allow government to augment the funds of the Department of
Agriculture for calamity relief and rehabilitation, as well as provide
indemnity funds for hog farmers and additional funding for biosafety
measures.

He also proposed that affected hog raisers be given cash-for-work
opportunities to help them get back on their feet. (ai/mtvn)

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