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Local hog groups urge Aquino: Strip Thai firm of tax perks

DAGUPAN CITY–With the government’s endorsement of the Charoen Pokphand Foods’ (CP Foods) plan to establish a P2.32-billion integrated production project in the country, complete with tax holidays and incentives, local players expressed fear that the Thai company would soon control the agricultural sector in the Philippines.

Rosendo So, director of the Swine Development Council, said CP Foods is already operating P7.14 billion worth of agribusiness projects in the country, such as animal and fish feed mills, and swine parent stock production farms in Central Luzon.

“Aside from the newly approved P2.32-billion project, there is a document indicating that it is requesting for inspection for importation of dressed chicken. With these projects, it is not farfetched that the agricultural sector, including vegetable production, would soon be controlled by a foreign company,” said So, also chair of the party-list group Abono.

He sought President Aquino’s help, saying since CP Foods is not bringing a “pioneering industry” in the country, the President should rescind the tax incentives given to the Thai agricultural giant.

The Board of Investments (BOI) granted a six-year tax holiday to CP Foods and a 30-percent tax incentive on importation of corn and other raw materials.

“Granting of tax holiday and tax incentives to a foreign company, which has been operating in the country for years, is not only detrimental to the local commercial players but will serve as a knockout punch to the livelihood of backyard and small and medium commercial raisers,” So said.

He lamented how CP Foods’ integrated production project was granted tax incentives by the BOI without consultation with the Department of Agriculture (DA) and local industry players.

“During the past administration, the DA was never bypassed when it comes to projects. In turn, agriculture officials consult local industry stakeholders. But now, the BOI allowed a foreign company to establish a project without any consultation,” he said.

So said local players were surprised when the BOI approved the CP Foods project because the DA rejected its application three years ago.

“Former Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap denied the application of CP Foods. Now, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said he was not even informed by the BOI about the project, which was granted enormous tax incentives. Local industry players were not also consulted in this decision that would make backyard hog producers and local feed producers [its] first casualties,” So said.

He appealed to Aquino to protect the interests of local hog and poultry growers, farmers and feed manufacturers.

“We are hoping that President Aquino will take to heart the interest of local farmers and growers, in particular, and the country’s food security, in general, and immediately rescind the decision of the BOI to grant tax perks to CP Foods,” he said.

Earlier, lawmakers led by Batangas Rep. Mark Llandro Mendoza, chair of the House committee on agriculture and food, and Butil Rep. Agapito Guanlao, chair of the House committee on food security, asked the BOI to suspend the grant of tax incentives to CP Foods. Yolanda Sotelo, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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