Congress to suspend session so Duterte can lower tariffs on fish, corn
MANILA, Philippines – The 17th Congress will go on a 12-day break this August to allow President Rodrigo Duterte to sign an executive order (EO) reducing tariffs or taxes on imported fish and corn.
House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya was asked on Monday, August 13, why Congress will be suspending session from August 16 to 27. Under the legislative calendar, Congress usually opens a regular session starting July then adjourns for about a month from mid-October to mid-November.
"One of the reasons would be to allow the President to zero out or reduce the tariffs.... For now, [on imported] fish and corn," said Andaya, who is also Camarines Sur 1st District representative.
When Congress is in session, any modification of taxes on imported products has to get the approval of both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
But Section 1608 of Republic Act No. 10863 or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act gives the President the power to "increase, reduce, or remove existing rates of import duty including any necessary change in classification."
Section 1608 also states, however, that this power of the President shall be exercised "only when Congress is not in session."
The reduction of tariffs on fish imports is one of the 5 measures identified by Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, lawmakers, and Duterte's economic managers that could mitigate the rise in prices of basic commodities.
Inflation already hit a fresh high of 5.7% in July.
Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda previously listed the 5 measures as follows:
- For the Department of Energy to defer the implementation of feed-in tariffs or payments made to ordinary energy users for the renewable electricity they generate. Feed-in-tariffs increased from P0.18 to P0.26 kilowatts per hour.
- For Duterte to consider reducing tariffs on fish imports "but needs Congress to be in recess"
- For Duterte to consider reducing tariffs on meat product imports to zero "but needs Congress to be in recess"
- For the National Food Authority to purchase 500,000 metric tons of well-milled rice with staggered deliveries in 5 months
- For the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas to implement more interest rate hikes to cleanse the market of opportunists
But Arroyo already clarified on August 8 that she is not pushing for the proposal to reduce tariffs on meat imports to ease inflation. – Rappler.com