Opposition Senator Francis ‘’Kiko’’ Pangilinan on Monday said the cost of the difference of a kilo of imported pork as estimated by the two government agencies is a whopping P26 billion.
The P26 billion is the difference of P1.35 per kilo on the projected price of imported pork from the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Customs (BoC), Pangilinan said after a public hearing by the Senate agriculture committee on the need to import pork because of supply shortages.
“The DA says it’s $3 a kilo, while the BoC says it’s $1.65. Pag ganyang usapan, sino po ang paniniwalaan natin? (Because of this difference, which agency shall we believe in?),” Pangilinan said.
“Ang DA o ang BoC? Parehong gobyerno. Obviously, mataas ng over 40 percent itong sa DA kumpara sa BOC. (Is it the DA or BOC? Both are government.Obviously, one is 40 percent more than the other),” Pangilinan said, asking the government agencies to explain the price difference.
“At 404.2 million kilos, that price difference is equivalent to over $544 million or over P26 billion, calculating at P48 to the dollar,” he added.
During the hearing on rising food prices, Pangilinan pointed out the discrepancy between DA and BoC figures in the estimated cost per kilo for the proposed minimum access volume (MAV) of 404,210 metric tons.
The DA is proposing a MAV, or the volume of a specific agricultural commodity that may be imported with a lower tariff, to address projected deficit in pork supply in the country due to the African swine fever (ASF).
“Bakit natin parang pinapaburan yung importer? Di ba dapat inuuna natin yung interest ng ating mga kababayan, yung interest ng gobyerno na mababa na presyo ((Why are we favoring the importer?). we not put the interest of our countrymen, the interest of the government on the lower price?) ” the former food security chief said.
Pangilinan also reiterated the need to reconcile DA figures on the real ASF effects in the country as the private sector is reporting four million hogs lost compared to DA’s 400,000 hogs.
The senator has called for more immediate assistance to be given to hog raisers in the form of insurance and cash aid to tide the industry through as they battle ASF.
As former chairman of the National Food Authority, Pangilinan was able to save P6 billion in public funds due to a transparent, accountable, and competitive rice importation process.
A MAV of 404,210 metric tons will cost the country over P58 billion if the $3 of DA will be followed, and P32 billion if the $1.65 of the BoC, with a difference of over P26 billion (using P48/1USD conversion).