FINANCE Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has directed the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to keep a tighter watch over the possible misdeclaration or misclassification of pork shipments entering the country as some importers might attempt to dodge correct payment of tariffs amid the current supply shortfall and retail price spiral.
Dominguez issued the order after President Rodrigo Duterte approved in principle during the Cabinet meeting held on Feb. 3 the recommendation of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to expand the minimum access volume (MAV) allocation for pork imports.
Aimed at boosting pork imports, the DA said the expansion of the MAV will help offset soaring pork prices amid the outbreak of the African swine fever (ASF) in the country, which has significantly reduced the output of local pork producers and jacked up market prices.
Dominguez, who served as DA secretary during the Corazon Aquino administration, told Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero to watch out for traders possibly misclassifying pork imports once the new MAV allocations and tariff rates are approved by the President.
The current tariff on pork within the MAV is at 30 percent, while off-quota imports are taxed a higher 40 percent.
The Tariff Commission has recommended a lower tariff rate on pork imports within the MAV, which should come from ASF-free countries.
Edible offal (entrails) of bovine animals, such as swine, sheep and goats are taxed much lower, which some importers may declare as prime pork shipments to avoid paying higher import duties.
Guerrero, for his part, assured Dominguez that the BOC has been closely monitoring the imports of meat products, including pork and chicken.
The Tariff Commission has already submitted its recommendation on increasing the MAV to the President, according to the DA. (PR)