Veggie farmers slam collection of ‘road tax’

By Amy R. Remo
Last updated 04:38am (Mla time) 07/25/2007

Vegetable growers have appealed to the government to stop the imposition of a “road tax” on vegetables being transported to Metro Manila.


According to Lyndon Tan, president of the Region IV Vegetable Council, the problem persists even after the Department of Agriculture has assured farm growers that charges on the goods would be removed under the government’s food lane program.


Tan said provincial governments continue to impose fees and taxes despite the presence of an order of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) suspending collection of such taxes.


The DILG issued the memorandum circular last year.


Similar to a pass, the sticker that provincial governments issue to vegetable growers costs from P500 to P1,000.


With the stickers, vegetable transporters are exempted from the truck ban.


Tan said that the vegetable growers need to secure the stickers from officials of all the provinces that happen to lie in their farm-to-market route.


Each local government issues its own set of stickers.


Tan said vegetable growers from Region IV have repeatedly asked the DA to help them resolve the problems brought on by the truck ban, which prevented them from directly delivering their produce to buyers, particularly those in Metro Manila.


This, he said, adds to the cost of the vegetables sold in markets.


At a meeting in Malacañang last week, Tan said vegetable growers continue to be harassed by various provincial governments.


Agriculture Undersecretary Salvador Salacup admitted that local government units had the mandate to raise revenues through the issuance of local ordinances.


He added that the agriculture department had asked the DILG to “facilitate the efficient and timely delivery of local produce to city centers.”


Salacup also said that Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap would again talk to Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno to press the matter.


Because of the truck ban, Tan said, vegetable growers would often sell their produce to middlemen and traders, who consequently jack up prices.


This move makes the produce way more expensive than farm-gate prices — to the disadvantage of consumers.


Also because of the truck ban, some vegetable producers resort to hiring or buying smaller vans to be able to deliver their produce.


The costs of the vehicles, fuel and the hiring of extra workers are eventually passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices.


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