Pangilinan to DA, BoC: Conflicting pork import price can cost Philippines P26B

THE difference of $1.35 per kilo on the projected price of imported pork from the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Customs (BoC) can cost the country P26 billion, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said Monday after the Senate hearing on rising food prices.

“The DA says it’s 3 dollars a kilo, while the BoC says it’s 1.65 dollars. Pag ganyang usapan, sino po ang paniniwalaan natin? Ang DA o ang BoC? Parehong gobyerno. Obviously mataas ng over 40 percent itong sa DA kumpara sa BoC,” Pangilinan said, asking the government agencies to explain the price difference.

“At 404.2 million kilos, that price difference is equivalent to over 544 million dollars or over 26 billion pesos, calculating at 48 pesos to the dollar,” he added.

During Monday’s hearing on rising food prices, Pangilinan pointed out the discrepancy between DA and BoC figures in the estimated cost per kilo for the proposed minimum access volume (MAV) of 404,210 metric tons.

The DA is proposing a MAV, or the volume of a specific agricultural commodity that may be imported with a lower tariff, to address projected deficit in pork supply in the country due to the African swine fever (ASF).

“Bakit yung mataas ang binibigay niyo? Bakit hindi yung mas mababa? Wala tayong negotiation sa kanila. Sila ang magbebenta sa atin, tayo pa ang magbibigay ng mataas na presyo? Bakit hindi natin ipilit na 1.65 dollars kung ano ang sinabi nila. Why are we increasing the value of imports? Bakit natin pinapangunahan yung importer?” Pangilinan asked.

“Bakit natin parang pinapaburan yung importer? Di ba dapat inuuna natin yung interest ng ating mga kababayan, yung interest ng gobyerno na mababa na presyo,” the former food security chief said.

Pangilinan also reiterated the need to reconcile DA figures on the real ASF effects in the country as the private sector is reporting 4 million hogs lost compared to DA’s 400,000 hogs.

The senator has called for more immediate assistance to be given to hog raisers in the form of insurance and cash aid to tide the industry through as they battle ASF.

As former chairman of the National Food Authority, Pangilinan was able to save P6 billion in public funds due to a transparent, accountable, and competitive rice importation process.

The DA reported that their estimated price per kilo of pork is at $3 while the BoC pegged it at $1.65.

A MAV of 404,210 metric tons will cost the country over P58 billion if the $3 of DA will be followed, and P32 billion if the $1.65 of the BoC, with a difference of over P26 billion (using P48/1USD conversion).

“The signal government is giving in computing it at higher import costs is a signal to the private sector exporters that it can sell at a higher price. Pag mataas ang computation ng gobyerno, senyales ito sa lahat. Tataas talaga ang presyo,” Pangilinan said.