Lower tariffs on basic food items to fight inflation 'nonsensical,' says ex-DTI official

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 10 2018 06:26 PM

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MANILA - Lowering tariffs on basic food items to address temporary inflation is nonsensical since it would hurt farmers, an advocate said Friday. 

Reducing tariffs should only be done if it's for the purpose of global competitiveness, Ernie Ordoñez, convenor of Agricultural Fisheries Alliance told ANC. 

"The tariffs have long been studied. To bring it down, it means it would affect the farmers and fisherfolks. I’m not in not in favor of bringing tariffs down to solve inflation," he said. 

"Just for this temporary inflation you’re going to destroy the economic equation? This is non-sensical," Ordoñez, a former trade official, said. 

Removing tariffs on agricultural products could mean "war" against domestic agricultural producers, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque earlier said, quoting Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol.

Meanwhile, imposing zero-tariffs on meat is "totally ridiculous," Ordoñez said. 

“They have gone a long time to find out exactly what percent for chicken and for pig. You bring that to zero… you’re gonna kill them [farmers],” he said.

Imposing zero tariffs on some basic food items was part of the draft measures proposed to curb inflation, according to House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's "focal person" on inflation measures, Albay Representative Joey Salceda.

Meat was later removed from the list as a result of a "strong lobby," Salceda said. 

Inflation quickened for the seventh straight month at 5.7% in July, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed.