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Senators want periodic review, agri boost with extended tariff cut


SENATORS on Monday expressed support for the reduction in tariffs on imported pork, corn, rice and coal for at least another year, but called for measures that should be undertaken alongside the extended tax cut.

“Yes, looks like we have no choice as of the moment because we don’t produce enough food for our people,” Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Martin “Koko” D. Pimentel III said in a statement.

“I suggest that the lowered tariff on important food items be reviewed every three or six months,” he added.

Executive Order 171, signed by former President Rodrigo R. Duterte in May, extended the lower tariffs on pork and rice, as well as cut duties on corn and coal until end-2022. President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. on Monday approved another extension to December 31, 2023.

Senate Majority Leader Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva said the extension is a welcome development amid soaring inflation, but said import tariff cuts should “not be adopted as a long-term policy.”

Agricultural sector groups Federation of Free Farmers and the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura denounced the extension saying there is sufficient supply from local production, and that only importers and traders stand to benefit from the president’s decision.

Senator Mary Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares said the government should start veering away from band-aid solutions.

“We need to craft policies that take on a longer view of the situation with a wider perspective,” she said.

“Measures that bring down prices for consumers must go hand in hand with measures that will support food producers going forward,” she said. “Food producers are also consumers themselves and many of them have already taken a hit in the past two years.” — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan

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