Aside from pork and poultry, the government is also losing billions of pesos a year due to irregular practices involving the importation of fish and seafood products, Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson bared Thursday.
Lacson questioned the huge discrepancies between the records of the World Trade Organization and the Philippine Statistics Authority in terms of fish and seafood importation from the top 15 exporting countries from 2015 to 2020.
“The Department of Agriculture will have a lot of explaining to do. The discrepancies may mean there is a lot of misdeclaration, underdeclaration, or outright smuggling. There’s a pattern,” he said at the second hearing of the Senate Committee of the Whole on irregularities involving agricultural products.
“It’s not just in pork and poultry products where there are irregularities. It cuts across practically all FSRAs (food safety regulatory agencies). What action has the DA taken? The bottom line is that we have lost so much revenues – some P1.058 billion yearly from 2015 to 2020 in foregone revenues on imported fish and seafoods alone on account of all these discrepancies,” he added.
Citing data obtained by his office, Lacson said the average total estimated tariff disparity between the WTO data on imported fish and seafoods amounts to an average of P1.058 billion per year.
Lacson questioned as well the discrepancy in records of the WTO and PSA in the importation of non-mechanically deboned meat (MDM) chicken products, with an average of 190 million kilos of unaccounted non-MDM chicken from 2015 to 2020.
“Some importers would declare the non-MDM chicken products as MDM to avail of the five-percent tariff, which is much lower than the 30 percent for in-quota importation and 35 percent for out-quota importation of non-MDM products,” Lacson said.
“While the government loses billions of pesos in potential revenues, the pockets and bank accounts of some importers and corrupt officials continue to grow bigger,” Lacson said.
Earlier, Lacson warned Executive Order 128 series of 2021, which temporarily lowers the tariff for imported pork products, would not only kill the local hog-raising industry, but would also cause some P3.6 billion in lost revenues.