President Duterte is apparently in a bind on the proposed increase in the country’s pork imports at reduced tariffs.
According to Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, the order could not be signed by the President while Congress is in session based on the country’s’ tariff law. The issue is expected to be threshed out during the President’s meeting with the Cabinet on Monday, Roque said.
“Pagdating po sa usaping baboy, ang inaasahan natin ay mapipirmahan ng Presidente iyong pagtaas po noong tinatawag na MAV (minimum access volume) iyong pag-import nang mas maraming baboy. Pero po mayroon po kasing requirement na kinakailangan Congress must not be in session (On the issue of pork, we expect the President to sign the order increasing the MAV on pork imports. But there is a requirement that Congress must not be in session),” Roque said during a televised press briefing Monday, Feb. 22
“So kung mayroon pong maa-agree-han mamaya, it will be whether or not the President should sign the increased MAV, iyong sa volume, tapos ibang issue pa iyong magkano po iyong taripa na mai-impose (So if there will be any agreement later, it will be whether or not the President should sign the increased MAV, the volume. The tariff amount to be imposed will be another issue),” he said.
The Department of Agriculture earlier recommended to the President to approve additional pork imports to cover the project shortfall for the year. More than 400,000 metric tons of pork imports have been proposed from the current 54,000 metro tons as the government moves to boost supply and curb rising prices.
The DA recommendation also included lowering the tariff to 5 percent from 30 percent for imports under MAV. The proposed tariff for pork imports outside MAV is pegged at 15 percent from the existing 40 percent.
The MAV sets the limit to the amount of agricultural commodities that the Philippines can import at a customs duty lower than the out-quota tariff.
The Palace earlier said the importing a higher volume of pork supply will be the government’s last resort to address the domestic supply and price concerns.
The government has implemented measures, including increased hog shipment from Visayas and Mindanao, to Metro Manila and other areas after hog production has been affected by the African swine fever. Early this month, a price ceiling has also been imposed for certain pork and chicken products sold in Metro Manila markets for 60 days.