MANILA — Tariff reduction only “pads the the profits of big businessmen,” the message Albay Representative and ways and means committee chair Joey Salceda strongly drives across.
The congressman makes known his opposition to the proposal of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to reduce tariff on pork imports by claiming the that this measure will only create minimal impact.
“We’ve run the numbers, and our findings are that, at the levels the DA is trying to propose for importation, the tariff reduction will only impact average consumer pork prices by 50 centavos. This is not worth the pain it will cause farmers, and it is certainly not worth the trouble of more inspections,” Salceda says during the committee meeting.
“Even with the current pork tariffs of 40%, the imported price will be around P187 per kilo. Considering that pork has reached up to P400 per kilo in some markets, there is no logic for a tariff reduction. Even at a tariff rate of 100%, there would still be an incentive to import,” he points out.
“Only the big supermarkets and importers will benefit from a tariff reduction. They will already make very big money at the current tariff price,” he says.
What the Albay congressman drives at is that the tariff reduction could hurt the domestic swine industry where 71% is backyard production.
The DA offers to reduce tariff for pork imports under the minimum access volume (MAV) scheme from 30% to 5% this year. DA chief William Dar earlier said if pork import tariffs were to be lowered, retail prices will fall within the Government’s mandated price ceiling.
Prices of meat products increased as supply ran low because the African swine fever was not given much attention before it could cause too much loss for hog farmers.
The lawmaker suggests more pork importation but at the current tariff rate.
“Whatever is in excess of what we usually import, let’s use the tariff revenues as an RCEF (rice competitiveness enhancement fund) for the swine industry. That could reach P14 billion more in tariff revenues if we import all of our shortfall,” says Salceda.
“I’d prefer an RCEF for pork. The free hybrid seeds from rice worked to reduce our import dependence on rice. Let’s do the same for the pork value chain. Because the problem is domestic,” he clarifies.
As Salceda had previously said, the long-term solution in this issue is better feed supply and more modern support systems. (JSM/JuanManila)