Filipinos won when senators were able to strike a balance on pork tariffs with the country’s economic managers between the plight of backyard hog raisers and local producers for a chance at reducing inflation, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Thursday.
The senators and the country’s economic team led by Finance Secretary Carlos, Dominquez agreed that the maximum access volume (MAV) of pork importation should be reduced from 404,000 metric tons (MT) to 254,210 MT.
Economic team members and Agriculture Secretary William Dar, in discussions with the Senate, said they recommended that the tariff rates in Executive Order 128 be adjusted to 10% in-quota and 20% for out-quota for the first three months; and 15% in-quota and 25% for out-quota for the remaining nine months.
“They were playing safe, it will affect the local producers, so we talked... and then finally after talks, we met the median,” said Sotto.
According to Sotto, the results of the compromise amount to protection of local hog raisers and the non-abuse of the importation quotas.
“It was not confined only to those who eat pork because it has many allied industries... The price of pork will be controlled and then the Executive Department joined us in looking for the best balance,” related Sotto.
Sotto also said they were assured by Dominguez he will have the legal study and will execute the EO within the boundaries of the laws.
Executive Order 128, which temporarily cut pork import tariffs, was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte last month.
Meanwhile, Dar considered this an urgent short-term measure.
“We are still aggressively taking steps to help the domestic industry recover from ASF (African Swine Fever). These include the ‘Bantay ASF sa Barangay’ and its twin hog repopulation program.,” he said.
He said the Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines are setting aside P30 billion and P12 billion, respectively, to lend to commercial swine raisers.
“But these long-term measures take time. We need an immediate strategy to temper the current high pork price situation,” Dar added.