Senator urges economic team to ensure pork, rice prices affordable

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 19) — A senator is urging the government’s economic team to ensure that prices of pork and rice are kept affordable for Filipinos after it pushed for lower tariffs on said commodities.

“Our people expect the government’s economic team to live up to their avowed tenet of fiscal responsibility by seeing to it that actual benefits trickle down to Filipino families and not just to importers,” Senator Grace Poe said in a statement.

To ensure enough food supply in the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic, President Rodrigo Duterte issued Executive Order No. 135 that lowered tariff for imported rice to 35% from its previous in-quota rate of 40% and out-quota rate of 50% for a period of one year.

He also signed EO No. 134 that adjusted tariff rates on pork products to 10% (in-quota) and 20% (out-quota) for the first three months, and 15% (in-quota) and 25% (out-quota) from the fourth to the 12th month.

This modified the earlier issued EO that dropped imported pork tariff from 30% (in-quota) and 40% (out-quota) to 5% (in-quota) and 15% (out-quota) for the first three months and 10% (in-quota) and 20% (out-quota) from the fourth to the 12th month.

The economic managers have been pushing for lower tariffs to open the domestic market to more importers and lower prices for consumers. However, some agriculture stakeholders are against such idea, saying that doing so would discourage local production.

Poe also pointed out that reduced tariff collection would mean lost revenue for the government that could impact next year’s budget

She said that the National Economic and Development Authority already said that “nothing is free from heaven and that government cannot just give subsidies because it will have to be taken from somewhere.”

“With budget discussions starting soon, which services will government now have to scrimp on because of the foregone revenues on pork and rice?” Poe asked.