House inquiry sought on rising pork prices

House inquiry sought on rising pork prices
A butcher tends to his pork products at a market in this undated file photo.
Michael Varcas / File

MANILA, Philippines — The House agriculture committee is being urged to conduct an inquiry on the rising prices of pork, which has recently hit P400 per kilo.

Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo (Marikina) filed Wednesday a resolution asking for such an investigation, where the panel will evaluate the effectiveness of the current measures being taken by the Department of Agriculture and other government agencies to curb and resolve the crisis hounding hog-raising and pork trading.

Quimbo pointed out in her resolution that the year-on-year inflation rate for meat rose to 9.95% in December 2020 from 8.15% the previous month, and that by January 2021, retail pork prices have increased by as much as 55% from the same period last year.

The Duterte administration is eyeing yet another price freeze in the hopes of arresting this spike in prices, even if the policy proved to be ineffective in curbing rising prices last year.

Quimbo also pointed out that imposing price ceilings on pork products in the midst of a shortage will only further disincentivize suppliers already struggling from the recent calamities.

“A more effective solution to facilitate fair prices to suppliers and consumers is to aggressively control the outbreak of African swine fever among farm animals and to encourage investments in the industry in order to improve pork supply in the long term,” she said.

She also said that while reducing tariffs on imported pork would benefit downstream firms and consumers, it may adversely impact local hog raisers if they are unable to face tougher competition from imported meat.

She added that the spike in prices may be caused by anti-competitive conduct like collusion among traders and called on the government’s antitrust body to investigate and penalize these activities. — Xave Gregorio

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