KMP to FPA: Time to abandon liberalization, regulate fertilizer prices

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) responds to Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority (FPA) Executive Director Wilfredo Roldan’s statement that local fertilizer prices “are beyond the Philippine government’s control amid a liberalized regime.” “We agree with FPA director Roldan that liberalization is the reason behind the government’s impotence at regulating fertilizer prices. This is among the things that we would like to fetter out in a legislative inquiry. It’s time we abandon liberalization and reclaim our sovereignty on food production!” KMP National Chairperson Danilo Ramos declares.

Roldan issued the statement last August 12 in response to demands from farmers groups for a probe on the incessant increase in the local prices of fertilizer.

Ramos explained that the FPA was not as powerless as it is today. “Domestic fertilizer production was the stress of government policies since the 1950s. This took the form of protective tariffs, subsidies for local farmers, and active price regulation. By 1981, tariffs on fertilizers of various grades were estimated to be at 31.3%.” 

Tariff rates on fertilizers today range from 1% to 3%; and even zero, for countries the Philippines has free trade agreements with.

“Things took a turn in 1986, when the fertilizer industry was liberalized. Subsidies were stopped and PHILPHOS was later privatized, and tariffs were effectively removed. The FPA was weakened and transformed to serve only in issuing standards and managing registries. Since then, local fertilizer production has almost disappeared,” Ramos continued.

PHILPHOS or Philippine Phosphate Fertilizer Corporation was first established in June 1980 as a government-owned and controlled corporation. It is a private entity now owned by mining and telecoms magnate Salvador ‘Buddy’ Zamora II, and the foreign government of Nauru, a microstate in Oceania. Zamora and his family of bureaucrat-capitalists are known to have benefited from many business and political concessions under Duterte. 

“We urge the Congress and the Senate to hold inquiries, precisely for our lawmakers to understand how to address our farmers’ plight on uncontrollable fertilizer prices through changes in policies and laws. It is not futile but, on the contrary, a very necessary exercise,” Ramos insists.

Last August 12, the Makabayan bloc filed in Congress House Resolution 2103 to “conduct an investigation, in aid of legislation, on steadily increasing prices of fertilizer.” KMP said the House Committee on Agriculture and Food must tackle the resolution ASAP.

The peasant leader ended by pointing out that the FPA is currently still mandated to “assure adequate supplies of fertilizer and pesticide at reasonable prices.” #

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