MANILA (UPDATE) - The Senate has accepted the economic team's recommended pork import tariff rates under Executive Order No. 128 meant to augment supply that dwindled due to the African swine fever, the agriculture department said Thursday.
In a statement, the Department of Agriculture said the agency, along with the economic team, recommended that the tariff rates be adjusted to 10 percent in-quota and 20 percent for out-quota for the first 3 months, and 15 percent and 25 percent, respectively, for the remaining 9 months.
Lawmakers and the economic team also agreed that the minimum access volume (MAV) be reduced to 254,210 metric tons from 404,000 MT, it said.
The revision is necessary to arrest the inflationary impact of dwindling pork supply, Agriculture Secretary Willam Dar said.
The EO will run for a year, and the directive can be recalled anytime that prices and supply of pork stabilizes in the country, as verbally committed by the President and his economic managers, according to Sotto.
The Senate expects the DA to submit reports regularly on the matter, Sotto said. Local hograisers were also consulted, he added.
"Yes we did. Pinadala ko muna sa mga senador ang napagkasunduan namin ni (Finance) Secretary (Carlos) Dominguez (I sent to other senators what Secretary Dominguez and I agreed upon). Then when we agreed to it, majority, I do not recall anybody objecting, meron reminders lang (there were just reminders)," he told reporters.
Sotto said a partial Senate Committee of the Whole report would be submitted when session resumes on May 17. Among the recommendations was to strengthen the DA's advisory council, he said.
“Dapat (It should be) consultative. And then to avoid the technical smuggling, we will find perhaps new amendments to the law and delineation ng trabaho (of tasks)," he said.
Senators have been opposing the executive order lowering tariffs on pork imports, saying this would cripple business for local hog raisers.
Thousands of hogs were culled especially in Luzon where the African swine fever hit, causing shortage in supply and a spike in pork meat prices.
A price cap on pork meat was earlier imposed but the supply-side risk has to be addressed to stabilize prices.
Inflation has been hovering above the 2 to 4 percent government target range due to the spike in food prices. The consumer price index rose to 4.5 percent in March.
“This is an urgent short-term measure. We are still aggressively taking steps to help the domestic industry recover from ASF," Dar said.
“Given that we have reached a compromise, we will act without delay to reflect the features of the compromise in a corresponding executive issuance,” he added.
The revised tariff and volume will be submitted to the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board for approval. The NEDA will then make the final recommendation to the Office of the President.
The Agriculture Department earlier said the country's swine industry is estimated to be valued at P260 billion.
--With reports from Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News