Drafted bill seeks to impose tax on specific imported products
By Rhealyn C. Pojas
With the realization that locally produced agricultural products like pork and chicken and other poultry products are struggling to compete with their imported counterparts in the Palauan market, President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. introduced a bill to the Senate that will impose taxes on certain imported products.
In a letter dated March 13 which was addressed to Senate President Hokkons Baules, Remengesau said that for “fresh-farmed products to compete with those from factory-farms and mass-market international seafood operations, [Palau] need[s] a smart system of financial incentives” that will help encourage “domestic production in order to increase the availability of local products.” [restrict]
“It is no secret that fresh, local, natural food is healthier than the processed food products that have come to dominate so many modern diets,” Remengesau said in the letter, adding that stores in Palau had become reliant on big food shipments from overseas where even basic food like meat and vegetables were sourced from international factory-farms and mass-production food conglomerates.
Remengesau also cited in the letter that even seafood which are plentiful in Palau is imported at a rate of almost $200,000 per year.
The letter also stated that to realize this goal and see the emergence of a healthy, competitive market for fresh protein products, the Palauan government needs to help in resetting the scale.
The introduced bill seeks to amend Section 1301 of Chapter 13 of Title 40 of the Palau National Code (PNC) to include the imposition of import tax on certain items.
In the previous interview with Bureau of Agriculture (BOA) Director Fernando Sengebau during the opening of the Palau National Slaughterhouse (PNS) on February 9, he told Island Times that the locally produced meat in Palau are a bit expensive compared to the imported ones because the latter are produced by big piggeries and farms that are heavily subsidized by their government, hence making their products cheaper.
“[This] is why the Minister, at this program, [is] trying to introduce with the President an excise tax program for all imported meat in Palau and from the money collected, we can subsidize feeds for the farmers and then the meat prices will be competitive between the imported and locally produced meat in Palau, hopefully,” Sengebau said.
The legislative findings for bill stated that the country must “set the stage for increased local production of food products like pork, poultry, and seafood,” adding that the construction of the PNS and the “provision of necessary financing for agriculture and aquaculture loans through the Palau National Development Bank have made local meat production technically possible.”
The PNS located in Olsirked, Ngchesar has been operating since its opening on February 9 to cater advance meat processing system to local farmers.
The Animal Production Project (APP) which operates under the Bureau of Agriculture also aims to boost pig breeding in Palau through Artificial Insemination, Island Times previously reported. [/restrict]