• DA chief: There is technical smuggling of meat products

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    THE Bureau of Customs (BOC) will continue processing and releasing of all imported meat products even as the Department of Agriculture (DA) has ordered recall and revalidation of all import permits for meat and agricultural products after it was uncovered that they were being used as tools in technical smuggling.

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    A United Nations report showed that bulk of the imported meat products that entered the country were declared as offal–by-products of a butchered animal–as compared to good meat.

    Offal is levied only a 5-percent tariff as compared to 35 percent for good meat.

    “As per UN report there is a big discrepancy between the good meat and offal that we received in the country. There is a huge increase in offal importation because offal has only 5 percent tariff, while good meat is 35 percent. There is technical smuggling,” Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol said over the weekend.

    It was also discovered that import permits were being recycled and reused, and sold for millions of pesos to unscrupulous importers.

    But stakeholders have raised concerns on having to pay undue demurrage and storage fees amounting to P4,500 per day for every container van.

    Customs Commissioner Nicanor Faeldon clarified that he is yet to receive any official order/memorandum from the Agriculture department regarding the recall.

    “We will not hesitate to comply with orders, and we’ll not contradict other regulatory agencies. But for this one, we have to clarify with them because no memo has reached my office yet. For now, we will continue with the status quo,” Faeldon said.

    He assured importers that there will be no port congestion and undue delay in the release of their shipment so as not to compromise the supply of and demand for meat in time for the holidays.

    As of end November, Pinol said, the DA had already validated some 4,000 import permits.

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