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Importing and Lowering food products not a solution, Senators

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Two senators asked for a careful analysis on the effects of lowering tariff for imported fish, vegetables, meat and other food products on local distributors after the idea was proposed due tothe record-high inflation rate.

Senators Ping Lacson and Senate Tito Sotto recommended that the Senate should first look at the impact of such measure to the local food industry.

Lacson said, “We need to see the parameters of, not the details.  It will reduce prices definitely but at the expense of our local producers?”

For his part, Senate President Sotto said, “I suggest we have firstly a matrix on what the effect would be on our local industries of like products mentioned.”

Lacson also explained on the possible danger and effect of the lowering of tariff.“Once the market is flooded with imported meat, fish and vegetables, prices will go down for sure following the law of supply and demand.”

“However, what will happen to our local producers—the farmers, hog and fowl raisers? They will inevitably suffer since they may not be able to compete considering their high cost of production,” he noted.

The reduction of meat tariffs was among measures discussed during a recent meeting between Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and economic managers of the Duterte administration.Lowering tax rate for imported goods like meat, fish, and vegetables is seen as one of many ways to slash prices of basic commodities and address skyrocketing inflation – at 5.7 percent in July from 5.2 percent in June, already surpassing government target averages for the whole year.

“If the government would lower the tariff, safety nets should also be put in place for the sake of local food producers.  They should balance everything. The idea may look good,but there should be some mitigation measures to cushion the impact on our local stakeholders — farmers and hog and poultry raisers,” Lacson said in closing.

At one point, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol suggested in lowering of tariff and removal of non-tariff barriers to allow greater importation of fish, meat and wheat products as part of measures to temper rising inflation in the country. he justified that the prices of fish, poultry, vegetables and meat (pork and beef) products are continually increasing because of low domestic supply. Thus, the option to import is considered. However, he also expressed  later on that removing tariffs on fish and meat imports to ease inflation, as this could “unduly harm”our local producers.

Interviewed by THEPHILBIZNEWS, some meat vendors have expressed their concern on the plan of the government to lower import tariff that will sure affect the local producers and their sales due to lower price of the imported meat products.

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