BOC not consulted about lowered tariff on imported pork
MANILA, Philippines — The proposal of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to lower tariff rates on imported pork, which President Rodrigo Duterte eventually approved, did not go through the Bureau of Customs (BOC), senators learned Monday.
During a Senate investigation on the food security crisis brought about by the outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) in the country, Senate President Vicente Sotto III asked if there was any consultation conducted with BOC regarding DA’s recommendation to reduce tariff rates on pork imports.
BOC Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero answered in the negative. “Wala po. Hindi po dumaan samin [None. It did not go through us].”
The BOC sees total foregone revenue of P3.6 billion from April to December 2021 with the implementation of Duterte’s Executive Order (EO) No. 128. This order stemmed from the DA’s proposal, which senators and local hog raisers alike have already opposed to.
Asked if BOC would agree with DA’s recommendation if the bureau had been consulted about it, Guerrero told Sotto that their decision would have been dependent on whether it would be beneficial to the Filipino public.
Guerrero, however, said the agency is trying its best to maximize collections.
“Therefore you will not agree to the lowering of tariff?” Sotto pressed Guerrero.
The BOC chief did not categorically answer Sotto’s question but instead said that lowering tariffs “could result in the lowering of prices also of food commodities.”
“It depends on how we can implement this,” Guerrero added.
Meanwhile, Senator Francis Pangilinan said the BOC should have been consulted on matters relating to the imposition of tariffs.
“That’s also a policy question, I think [it] should be very basic that every time we decide to reduce revenues or at least affect revenues of the second, if not the biggest, revenue-generating entity in the country, dapat may consultation [there should be consultation],” Pangilinan said.
Duterte last week signed EO No. 128, temporarily reducing tariffs on pork imports in a bid to resolve the country’s undersupply of pork.
Aside from this, Duterte also recently wrote Congress recommending an increase in the minimum access volume of pork by 350,000 metric tons in addition to the current 54,210 MT.
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