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Miscellaneous

Group asks DA to halt policy changes on palm oil, hits big business lobbyists

Bantay Palengke, an advocacy network focused on food and household goods, has raised concerns to the Department of Agriculture to reconsider the proposed policy changes concerning palm oil. These changes, if implemented, will trigger a surge in cooking oil prices, ultimately impacting the affordability of essential household food. In lieu of hasty implementation, Bantay Palengke suggests that thorough consultations with consumers be conducted before enacting such policies.

According to Bantay Palengke Convenor Lester Codog, “We are deeply concerned that the proposed restriction (on palm oil importation), if implemented, could have significant adverse effects. It’s likely that such limitations on free trade could cause palm oil prices to spike, along with the broader vegetable oil industry – including coconut oil. This, in turn, might have a direct impact on the collateral-free micro-financing provided by traders, while simultaneously rendering backyard compound feed producers uncompetitive in comparison to larger multinational corporations.”

Codog also added that the revenue being envisioned by the government in the imposition of value added tax on imported palm oil may not materialize.

“What could transpire is the shift of VAT-exempt volumes towards multinational feed mills, who would subsequently mark up prices before selling to lower-income Filipino consumers,” he explained.

Bantay Palengke also raised suspicion on the fact that Coconut Oil Refiners Association Chairman Jesus Arranza is the main proponent of the change in palm oil importation policies.

“It is our position that Mr. Arranza’s lobbying efforts for a competitor sector should be dismissed based on the fact that his business will gain undue competitive advantage once his proposals are implemented. In fact, it is the height of irony that Mr. Arranza is lobbying against palm oil and palm olein importation when his company had been importing palm oil and palm olein in the past,” Codog asserted.

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