FINANCE SECRETARY Carlos G. Dominguez III on Monday said he is backing a proposal to extend the validity of an executive order that will increase pork import volumes until end-2022.

The government, through Executive Order (EO) 133 in May, raised the minimum access volume (MAV) for pork imports to 254,210 metric tons (MT) this year from the previous 54,210 MT to address the spike in pork prices.

However, Mr. Dominguez said he is “not entirely” satisfied with the implementation of such measures.

“I understand there were regulations imposed by the Department of Agriculture limiting the access of imported pork to certain markets,” Mr. Dominguez said in a Viber message to reporters.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) earlier said it was considering extending the EO 133 until end of 2022, amid low utilization of the MAV and continued high pork prices.

Asked if he supports the NEDA’s proposal, Mr. Dominguez replied: “Yes, I am.”

According to the Customs data, the government lost P3.67 billion in foregone revenues from pork imports from April 9 to Dec. 10. This as the government implemented EO 128 and 134, which reduced the tariff rates on pork imports covered by the MAV, since April.  EO 134 will expire in May 2022.

In an economic bulletin on Monday, Department of Finance (DoF) Undersecretary and Chief Economist Gil S. Beltran said the government should adopt “more liberal” import measures for meat and fish products to ease inflation worries amid the holiday season.

Inflation eased to 4.2% in November, from 4.6% in October. However, the print was still beyond the 2-4% target range set by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

“But the high month-on-month inflation for meat and fish reminds authorities to adopt more liberal import measures to meet the peak demand during the holiday season,” he said.

Month on month, the general price index rose by 0.69% due to food. Meat prices quickened by 2.41% month on month as pork supply remained low despite higher demand. Fish prices increased by 2.06% as supply dropped amid the closed fishing season.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua last week flagged the low utilization of the expanded pork MAV and slow release of frozen pork inventory.

“The uptick in prices in November shows that we need to further ease administrative requirements for the unloading and distribution of stocks to encourage more importation and help bring back pork prices to their pre-African Swine Fever level,” Mr. Chua earlier said. — LWTN