Senator Grace Poe urged the government’s economic team to “walk the talk” and ensure that prices of pork and rice are kept affordable for ordinary citizens after it recommended tariff cuts that could also spell lost revenue.

“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,” Poe said.

“Will the tariff slash actually result in lower prices in public markets and groceries? Can the people actually feel it?” the veteran legislator added.

“Lost revenue could impact next year’s budget.”

The seasoned lawmaker raised concern that the lost revenue could impact on next year’s budget, which Congress will start deliberating soon.

“Nothing is free from heaven and that government cannot just give subsidies.”

“NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority) had said time and again that nothing is free from heaven and that the government cannot just give subsidies because it will have to be taken from somewhere. With budget discussions starting soon, which services will the government now have to scrimp on because of the foregone revenues on pork and rice?” the seasoned lawmaker asked.

EO 135 temporarily reduced the most favored nation tariff rates for rice to 35 percent, from 40 percent for in-quota imports and 50 percent for out-quota imports.

EO 134 modified the tariff rates on imported pork products.

The new tariffs on pork imports under the minimum access volume (MAV) would be 10 percent for the first three months, and 15 percent in the next nine months.

The tariff for pork imports outside MAV would be reduced to 20 percent for the first three months and 25 percent in the succeeding months.

At the hearings on rice tariffs that the Department of Finance said was meant to lower the cost of rice imported from India and Pakistan, the Tariff Commission had said that rice from the said countries were already cheaper than rice imported from the ASEAN.

Hog raisers and farmers have announced a boycott of the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) summit after the DA repeatedly ignored their pleas not to lower tariffs as it would discourage local production and bring down government revenues.

The economic team has been saying that the lowering of tariffs or the opening up of the market to imports will “lower prices” for consumers.

“Our people need all the help they deserve. Hirap na hirap na sila sa gitna ng pandemya,” the lady senator concluded.


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