With nearly 3.7 billion pesos in revenue lost to date due to lower tariffs but still expensive pork and a shortage of supplies until the end of the year, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said on Monday it supports measures to extend the higher import volume until the end of 2022..

Separately, local rice farmers also said on Monday that they suffered heavy losses and that consumers paid more to consume rice, while middlemen reaped more profits following the implementation of the rice pricing law. (RTL) over two years ago.

The latest Customs Office data provided by Dominguez showed the estimated loss of income, on the assessed value of 19.4 billion pesos of imported pork, which entered the country from April 9 to December 10, due to the implementation of decree (EO) n ° 128 and 134.

Lower rates

These EOs have set lower tariffs for pork imports covered by the higher minimum access volumes (MAVs) since April. EO 134, which replaced EO 128, will be implemented until May of next year.

Another order, EO 133, raised the 2021 MAS for pork to 254,210 metric tonnes instead of just 54,210 tonnes of imports due to the supply shortage caused by the African swine fever outbreak since. the end of last year.

Lower tariffs and increased import volumes allowed to enter were expected to increase supply and lower pork prices, which contributed the most to inflation above the Philippines target – or price increases faster than the government found manageable – this year.

Despite these EOs, estimates from the national planning agency of the National Economic and Development Agency (Neda) showed that the pork supply in the Philippines will have a deficit of 155,500 tonnes by the end. of the year.

Thus, pork prices rose again in November in part due to slow imports, limited distribution of imported pork and growing demand in the middle of the Christmas season.

Persistent concerns

When asked if he was satisfied with the implementation of EOs to reduce pork prices, Dominguez replied: pork in certain markets.

The Neda had long flagged this concern, especially when pork prices fell in Metro Manila, but not outside the National Capital Region (NCR), as imports were only delivered and sold in supermarkets and not in wet markets.

While the DA already issued a circular memorandum in October to distribute more pork to areas outside the NCR as well as to institutional buyers and processors, Neda was pushing to extend the validity of EO 133 until December. 2022 “to maximize the benefits of these [EOs]. “

Dominguez said he was in favor of Neda’s proposal on EO 133.

As for EO 134, which is a measure of revenue erosion, the Department of Finance (DOF) will first consider whether an extension can also be continued or not, Dominguez said.

In an online briefing, stakeholders in the rice industry stressed that it was not necessary to remove RTL entirely. Instead, the government should adopt a policy that would benefit local farmers in the long run.

“We are not saying to get rid of RTL completely, but to revise the law so that it benefits local farmers. Today we are forced to sell our land to pay off our debts. Our agricultural land is being converted to industrial use instead of food production, ”said Rene Cerilla, head of legal and political advocacy at Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (Pakisama), in the Philippines.

The national director of the Federation of Free Farmers’ Co-operatives, Inc., Raul Montemayor, said there had been no significant changes since the enactment of RTL. But this bill opened the door to “unlimited imports” and wholesale prices for rice fell.

Montemayor said there had been no significant improvement in production volume, yield, production costs and competitiveness amid support from the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) and tariff revenue.

As a result, he said rice farmers lost 56 billion pesos after the law came into effect while consumers paid 6.16 billion pesos more for rice products.

Wholesalers and retailers, as well as importers, earned an additional 78.40 billion pesos and 30.70 billion pesos, respectively, from the liberalization of the rice trade.

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