The government is now seeking legal opinion on the proposed tariff increase for offal as part of the effort to combat technical smuggling of pork and poultry products, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Thursday.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said that the department is now studying the proposal to increase the import duties for offal from 5 percent to 30 percent, similar tariff rate imposed for regular and premium pork imports under minimum access volume (MAV).
“We are working closely with the private sector to help the multiagency taskforce in combating smuggling of pork products into the country, and one of the proposals is to increase tariff as much as that of MAV,” Alcala told reporters.
Pork imports falling within the MAV are levied a 30-percent tariff, while the out-quota tariff is 40 percent.
Earlier, proponents asked the DA to hike the duties on offal up to the maximum allowable rate of 40 percent, because the low tariff makes it easy for traders to bring in the commodity.
Proponents of the tariff increase also noted that the lower duty for offal could be used as a channel for “technical smuggling” or hiding of premium pork cuts among the pork skin, ears, fats and rind that were declared in the shipment.
They added that these premium cuts are subject to higher tariff rate.
The DA chief, however, said that several legal issues remained an impasse for its immediately implementation.
“This is why we have already raised the issue to the legal department, to come up with a definitive results, before we send request to other Cabinet members for their own recommendation,” he said.
Alcala said that they expect to send a formal request to the Tariff Commission by July.
Local meat processors have said that plans to increase the tariff for offal would only mean higher prices, directly affecting Filipino consumers. They also said that the increase import duties would only benefit local hog raisers.