ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Duterte issues measures to tame inflation
President Rodrigo Duterte has issued measures aimed at addressing soaring inflation in the country.
Signed on September 21 but released by Malacañang on Tuesday, Administrative Order 13 removes administrative constraints and non-tariff barriers in the importation of agricultural products such as meat, fish and rice.
Fish and seafood, rice and meat, and vegetables accounted for 2.4 percentage points of the 6.4 percent inflation rate, a nine-year high, in August, according to the National Economic and Development Authority.
According to the order, the National Food Authority, Sugar Regulatory Administration, Department of Agriculture, in coordination with the Department of Trade and Industry should undertake "immediate measures" to remove administrative constraints and other non-tariff barriers on the importation of agricultural products.
The measures include streamlining procedures and requirements in the accreditation of importers and minimizing the processing time of import applications; exempting traders that are already accredited from registration requirements; and liberalizing the issuance of permits and accreditation of traders who want to import to rice "to break monopoly."
The order also mandates the concerned agencies to facilitate importation of certain agricultural products beyond their authorized minimum access volume and temporarily allow, as may be necessary, the direct importation by sugar-using industries to lower their input, "subject to reasonable regulations."
Duterte authorized the NFA Council to approve additional rice for importation beyond the minimum access volume commitment to the private sector.
He directed the DTI, and DA to take concrete steps to improve logistics, transport, distribution and storage of agricultural products to reduce input costs.
The DA shall also issue the appropriate certificate of necessity to allow the importation of adequate volumes of fish to augment the 17,000 metric tons of fish imports already being distributed in the market.
He also ordered the Bureau of Customs to expedite the unloading and release of agricultural products.
The President also ordered the DTI, NFA, National Bureau of Investigation and Philippine National Police to form surveillance team, with the assistance of the private sector, to monitor importation and distribution of agricultural products to ensure distribution to warehouses and retail outlets, prevent illegal acts of price manipulation, and other forms of unfair commercial practices.
The administrative order takes effect immediately.
Apart from the AO, Malacañang issued three memorandum orders pertaining to efficient delivery of agricultural products.
Memorandum Order 26 directs the DA and DTI to adopt measures to reduce the gap between farmgate prices and retail prices of agricultural products.
MO 27 orders the DA, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Philippine National Police and the Metro Manila Development Authority to adopt ways to ensure "efficient and seamless" delivery of imported agricultural products from the ports to markets.
MO 28 directs the NFA to "immediately release" to markets approximately 230,000 metric tons of rice currently in stock in its warehouses across the country.
The NFA shall also immediately release the 100,000 metric tons of rice previously contracted to be delivered before the end of September.
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