PRESIDENT AQUINO ASKED: Order crackdown on smuggling

May 20, 2012 at 9:48 pm Leave a comment

THE hog growers called on the government to mount a crackdown on the smuggling syndicate after some 87 million kilograms of imported pork illegally entered into the country and flooded the wet markets last year, resulting in the killing of 20 percent of the backyard industry.

Abono chairman and Swine Development Council director Rosendo So demanded that the Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Customs immediately purge the list of importers after he said the council found that only 14 percent or 15.03 million of 102.14 million kilos of offals were legitimate importation.

“The rest of the 86 percent or 87 million kilos of purportedly offals that flooded the wet markets in 2011 magically turned into prime cuts of pork and were passed off as fresh meat,” So stressed.

Citing records culled from the DA and the BoC, copy of which obtained by SDC, So said of the 142 accredited meat importers, only 29 firms are meat processors and 2 meat integrators that were duly permitted to import offals.

Offal refers to a butchered animal’s internal organs, entrails, skin and other leftover materials that are used as extenders in processed meat products as hotdogs and sausages. Imported offal should be processed, and should not be sold in the wet market.

“Of the 142 importers, only 29 are duly accredited as meat processors, two were meat integrators. The 111 traders that illegally brought in the bulk of the total 102.14 million kilograms of offals did not even have the facility to process offals,” So pointed out.

“So where did the 87 million kilograms of offal go when we did not see offals flooding the wet markets but frozen meat that were passed off as fresh meat,” So said. “The 111 meat traders that supposedly imported offals did not have the permit to do so.”

He said these importer-traders, who were engaged in technical and outright smuggling misdeclared the imported prime cuts as offals to avoid paying the right tariff, thus depriving the government of the much-needed revenue.

Offals are levied only five percent as against the 40 percent tariff for prime cuts.

So said the misdeclaration and mis-valuation deprived the government of some P3.7 billion in revenues annually.

Because of this, So urged President Aquino to order a crackdown on smuggling syndicate composed of corrupt customs and agriculture personnel and unscrupulous meat traders and importers.

“The syndicated smuggling operations of these unscrupulous importers and corrupt BOC and DA personnel are not only killing the local industries, but is also depriving the government billions of pesos in much-needed revenues,” the SDC director lamented.

“We call on President Aquino to declare an all-out war against smugglers not only to protect the local industry, also to safeguard the public from possible health problems arising from these contrabands,” he said, citing the recent experience of South Korea where meat were priced at $5per kilo (of P215 per kilo) after the foot-and-mouth (FMD) disease outbreak.

“We believe a top-to-bottom revamp is in order because the smuggling syndicate could not have done this illegal act without the connivance of the BoC and DA officials,” So said, even as he expressed support to Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala’s move to revamp its people at DA’s National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) and Bureau of Animals Industry (BAI).

So also took exception to the claim made by Customs Commissioner Rufino Biazon that his men did not have the expertise to classify the meat.

“We don’t believe that BOC personnel don’t have expertise to undertake a thorough inspection of imported meat when they have been doing it for many years already. We do believe that experience can teach them how to effectively deal with the technical smuggling, misdeclaration or undervaluation of imported meat, if they really want to,” the SDC official stressed.

He surmised that the BOC does not want to put in place the necessary mechanism to check these irregularities may be because its personnel are conspiring with the unscrupulous traders and importers.

So said the unfair practice of these meat importer-traders had cost the death of 20 percent of the backyard industry.

“We are hoping that the 20 percent of the backyard industry will be revived. We warn that the ongoing unfair practice of technical and outright smuggling continue to harm the entire hog and chicken industries. We demand that those responsible for this crisis be held accountable,” So said.

To immediately check smuggling of pork meat, the SDC official strongly recommended that BoC and the DA should conduct 100-percent inspection right inside the Customs premises, not at the warehouses of the importers located outside of the point of entry.

“We have already told Commissioner Ruffy Biazon that the 100 percent inspection of offal should be done inside Customs premises with the presence of DA people. Up to now, this mechanism is not being implemented when the BOC and DA personnel would only inspect an average of 20 containers a day,” So noted.

“If 100 % stripping is conducted inside Customs premises, it would effectively check misdeclaration and undervaluation involving imported meat, thus, helping the government collect an average of P1.2 million in customs duties per container, instead of P26,000 to P45,000. This is one way of plugging the revenue collection loopholes at BOC,” the SDC chairman stressed.

So said the hog and poultry sectors welcome the probe initiated by the Senate after Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III and Senators Francis Pangilinan and Manuel Lapid separately filed Senate resolutions seeking to “put an end to smuggling and over-importation of pork and chicken.

Entry filed under: News.

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