Dar forms panel to probe ‘tongpats’ scheme on pork importation

A special committee created by the Department of Agriculture (DA) is investigating the allegations of corruption in the allocation of meat import certificates under the in-quota Minimum Access Volume (MAV) scheme.

“While we stand firm that the issuance of MAV in-quota allocation is above-board and non-discretionary, we have created a special committee to look into allegations made by a lawmaker that there is a syndicate in the DA engaged in a payoff scheme,” Agriculture Secretary William Dar said Wednesday.

The committee is headed by the DA’s legal service chief and will base its inquiry on the initial findings of the DA-MAV secretariat.

In its report to the DA chief, the DA-MAV secretariat said the allegation of corruption to get a MAV import certificate is remote.

It noted that the existing licensees are the same ones who were previously accredited by the past DA administrations.

The report reiterated that there are no disparities between the allocations of the current MAV licensees and those given before the current DA administration.

However, agriculture group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) argued that the DA was aware of the “modus of pork importers” as early as six weeks ago.

SINAG said it would seek help from the international trade experts to check on the prices of these imports and file the appropriate case.

“If what is declared is the true value, then this is this dumping as the declared price is higher than is being sold at the country of origin. A case will be filed at the World Trade Organization (WTO),” the group said.

“If it is undervalued, it is covered under the Agriculture Anti-Smuggling Act of 2016 (RA 10845) as economic sabotage. We will file a case of smuggling against these importers, even without the help of DA,” it added.

Under the MAV scheme, the DA issues MAV Import Certificate to licensees that may avail part of the annual in-quota allocation of 54,000 metric tons (MT) and pay a tariff of 30 percent.

Firms wanting to import beyond the MAV volume, called out-quota, will have to pay a higher tariff of 40 percent.

“We would like to emphasize that our objective in increasing the MAV and reducing tariff is to stabilize supply and price of pork,” the DA chief said.

The DA-MAV secretariat imposes penalties on licensees that cannot utilize 70 percent of their allocation for the year.

The unused volume is recalled and deducted from the licensee and given to qualified applicants.

Apart from securing a MAV import certificate, licensees need to seek Sanitary and Phytosanitary Import Clearance (SPSIC) from the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) to ensure that pork or other meat products are safe for consumption and disease-free.

The DA said it does not allow imports of meat and processed meat products from countries with existing major animal diseases.

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Credit belongs to : www.tribune.net.ph

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