More agricultural groups, including sheep and rabbit raisers, are opposing the proposal to reduce tariffs on imported commodities like rice as the government would lose almost P60 billion in revenues.
In a joint statement, the allied industries of the grains and livestock industries threw their support behind the calls to reject the “proposed” reduction on tariffs on imported rice, pork, chicken and corn.
“The other agricultural industries of hog, chicken, corn and allied sectors have joined our call so that our plea would reach the President,” the statement read, which was publicly released to the media by the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag) on Sunday.
“The directive of the Philippines is clear: strengthen and support local production and not importation and smuggling.”
The statement’s signatories have grown to 26 from 11 groups.
The joint statement now includes the Sheep and Goat Industry Philippines, New Alliance of Rabbit Breeders Association, United Luzon Mango Stakeholders Association Inc., Aqua Farmers Ph, and Community Legal Help and Public Interest Center.
The joint statement claimed that both Finance Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan are planning to reduce tariffs not just for rice but also for imported pork, chicken and corn.
Diokno and Balisacan have publicly announced earlier that they support the reduction of rice tariffs to cushion the impact of rising global prices on domestic grain prices.
However, the two have not made public statements regarding the reduction in the tariffs of pork, chicken and corn.
Marcos, who is also the agriculture secretary, extended the lower tariffs on the four commodities—rice, pork, chicken and corn—until the end of the year.
Diokno has disclosed previously that pertinent inter-government agencies have been reviewing the implementation of the lowered tariff rates on the four commodities.
The agricultural groups called again for the resignation of Diokno and Balisacan over their tariff-reduction proposals.
“Up until today, there remains no compelling reason for the need for tariff reduction as farmers are now harvesting palay,” the statement read.
“Global rice prices have nothing to do with the recent spike in rice retail prices. The President has said that it was caused by hoarding, profiteering and smuggling.”
The groups argued that reducing or “eliminating” the tariffs on rice would result in the loss of P33.5 billion in tariff collections for the rice industry, based on a 3.9-million metric ton import projection.
The groups claimed that pork tariff reduction would result in foregone state revenues amounting to between P16 billion and P18 billion while tariff reductions on chicken imports would lead to P6 billion to P8 billion in revenue losses.
The groups, however, did not disclose the tariff rates for pork and chicken that they used in estimating the revenue losses for the two commodities.