MANILA - A congresswoman who is also an economist called on the Philippines' antitrust body to probe high pork prices.
House Deputy Minority Leader, Marikina 2nd District Rep. Stella Quimbo said the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) should investigate if there's a "pork mafia" keeping the price of the meat high.
Quimbo pointed out that the current minimum access volume (MAV) or the import quotas for pork have not been maximized despite the supply shortage which pushed pork prices up.
She said that only 70 percent of the MAV has been utilized.
"Bakit hindi ginagamit ang lahat ng permits to import lalo na’t kelangan na kelangan sa ngayon? Wala bang multa sa hindi paggamit ng isang limitado na pribilehiyo? Pasensya na, pero naiisip ko tuloy na baka merong pork mafia sa likod nito," Quimbo said.
(Why are not all the permits being used especially now that we really need pork. Isn't there a penalty for not using a limited privilege? Pardon me, but it makes me wonder if there's a pork mafia behind this.)
"If the constriction of imports is deliberate and used for purposes of restricting supply and fixing prices artificially at high levels, ito ay paglabag ng (this is a violation of) Section 14 of the Philippine Competition Act," said Quimbo who is a former commissioner of the PCC.
She also called on the Agriculture Department to review its policies on unutilized import permits.
Quimbo also said the government should go slow on the planned expansion of MAV for pork because of the underutilization of the existing MAV.
She also called for a further review of how much tariffs for imported pork should be cut.
Inflation shot to its highest level in over two years in February as prices of pork and other meats continued to increase.
The Bangko Sentral meanwhile has said that inflation remains manageable and that it will continue to keep its policy rate at a record low to support economic recovery following the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic.