‘Bureau of Customs should probe undervalued rice imports’

THE Federation of Free Farmers (FFF) is urging the federal government to look into the undervaluation of rice imports which has resulted in foregone tariffs of as a lot as P7.7 billion in 2022.

Citing information from the Bureau of Customs (BOC), FFF Nationwide Supervisor Raul Montemayor stated the nation imported 3.85 million metric tons (MMT) of rice final 12 months, the best for the reason that rice tariffication legislation (RTL) was enacted in 2019.

Montemayor stated over the weekend that the rice cargo values that had been declared by importers in 2022 had been 28 % decrease than the BOC’s reference costs on the typical.

“Landed prices had been declared as P16.94 per kilo in 2022. These ought to have been round P23.62 kilo on the typical, based mostly on BOC charges. If we apply the 35 % tariff to those declared values, the importers in impact shortchanged the BOC by P2.34 for each kilo they introduced into the nation,” he stated in a press release.

FFF claimed that the diploma of undervaluation has been “constantly deteriorating” over time, regardless of repeated assurances from the BOC that it could curtail the follow.

In 2019, the group stated the typical fee of undervaluation was solely 15 %. Within the subsequent two years, it averaged round 20 %, earlier than reaching its peak of 28 % in 2022.

“Importers are actually turning into bolder and greedier, and it appears the BOC is condoning—if not turning a blind eye to—the follow of undervaluation. That is occurring not solely with rice, but in addition to most different commodities like meats and greens,” Montemayor stated.

Specifically, FFF claimed that rice shipments from Pakistan had been “severely undervalued” by 37 %, even if the federal government had already reduce tariffs for non-Asean international locations to 35, purportedly to diversify the Philippines’s sources of rice.

Beneath the RTL, tariff collections from rice imports in extra of P10 billion in a given 12 months might be earmarked for money transfers to farmers adversely affected by imports.

The FFF once more referred to as for a evaluate of the RTL as retail costs have “hardly moved” regardless of the inflow of low-cost rice imports and the decline in farm-gate costs.

In August 2022, Montemayor requested the federal government to research the undervaluation of rice imports which was estimated at P3.84 billion in January to July final 12 months.

He stated information from BOC confirmed that from January to June 2022, 85 % of the two.28 MMT of imported rice had been undervalued by a mean of P5,664 per metric ton (MT).

The group additionally famous that the BOC intercepted cargo of 38,400 MT of rice being unloaded at Iloilo port on suspicion of smuggling.

Picture credit: Nonie Reyes