MANILA – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has collected a total of PHP18.9 billion in duties from rice imports in 2021. 
 
In his report during a recent Department of Finance (DOF) executive committee (Execom) meeting, Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero said last year’s collection from rice imports was 22 percent higher than the PHP15.5 billion collected in 2020. 
  
Import duties collected from rice imports starting March 5, 2019 go to the annual PHP10-billion Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) as provided under Republic Act 11203, or the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL). 
 
The RCEF is used to finance programs that will sharpen the competitiveness of palay (rice grain) growers by providing them easy access to fertilizer, farm machinery and equipment, high-yield seeds and cheap credit; and offering skills training programs on farm mechanization and modern farming techniques.
 
For pork imports, Guerrero said the BOC collected PHP3.75 billion between April 9, 2021 to Jan. 28, 2022 from a total volume of 242 million kilograms. 
 
The bureau, however, estimates that it had foregone PHP4 billion in revenues during this period as a result of the presidential directives lowering the import tariffs on pork. 
 
President Rodrigo Duterte had issued executive orders (EOs) that took effect starting April 7, 2021 to lower pork import tariffs and increase the allowable import volumes of the meat. 
 
These directives were meant to quell inflation by boosting the supply of pork and stabilizing its retail prices in the domestic market after the outbreak of the Asian swine fever (ASF) had hurt domestic hog production.
 
EO 128, which lowered pork import tariffs to 5 percent within its minimum access volume (MAV) and 15 percent outside MAV for the first three months, took effect from April 7  to May 14. 
 
EO 134, which superseded EO 128, set tariffs on pork imports under the MAV to 10 percent for the first three months, and 15 percent in the next nine months. 
 
For imports outside the MAV, the tariff rates were set at 20 percent for the first three months and 25 percent in the succeeding nine months. (PR)