Local March 15, 2012 | 7:55 am

Agribusiness leaders say top officials head import mafia

Santo Domingo. – The national agribusiness leaders grouped in Confenagro yesterday said Presidency Chief of Staff Luis Manuel Bonetti and Agriculture minister Salvador Jimenez, head an import mafia which destroys the sector,

Confenagro president Eric Rivero said the officials issue import permits to 4 or 5 importers for their own profit constantly beyond the Free Trade Agreement’s quota, which in his view jeopardizes local agribusinesses. “With those untimely permits and without any type of study, the countryside is chock full of shuttered farms.”

The business leader said despite that the country’s around 58,000 dairy farmers sell milk between 4 and 5 pesos per liter, cheaper than if imported, the two officials continue privileging powdered milk imports, while the local ones have been getting paid the same for 20 years, even with an increased production.

Rivero and Wilfredo Cabrera, interviewed by the Corripio Communications Group together with Confenagro executives Hecmilio Galván, Luis Bonilla, Polo Matías and Manuel Matos, said egg producers sell the laying hen chicks at 20 pesos each, but the Agriculture Ministry issues for import permits to companies that buy them abroad sell and them for as much as 35 pesos each and profit RD$35 million.

“It seems that the business it to have a friend as an official to import the hens. They make 10 million pesos and they surely give five,” Cabrera said.

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