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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, August 13, 2019
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Calibrate sugar importation,
amend SO No. 5: Confed
BY CARLA P. GOMEZ

 

The Confederation of Sugar Producers’ Associations Inc. yesterday called for a “judiciously calibrated” sugar importation program, to prevent a drop in domestic prices at the expense of the country’s sugar producers.

The Sugar Regulatory Administration, through Sugar Order No. 5 dated August 1, mandates the importation of 250,000 Metric Tons (MT) of refined and bottler’s grade sugar under a “Second Sugar Import Program for Crop Year 2018-2019”.

Confed is urging SRA to review and amend this Sugar Order (full text on page 7.

“SO No. 5 threatens the sugar industry with excessive importation. This will cause a drop in domestic prices while allowing traders and brokers to still make windfall profits, all at the expense of sugar producers. Most hurt will be the small farmers and agrarian reform beneficiaries who depend on favorable prices to make a decent living as sugarcane producers,” the Confed statement said.

While imports are no longer avoidable due to the industry’s inability to meet domestic demand, these imports must be calibrated on the basis of a careful analysis of projected production versus demand, and in consultation with industry stakeholders, it said.

This will require the updating of industry data with respect to actual area under cultivation and the corresponding crop estimates of the different sugarcane-growing districts throughout the country, as well as an accurate and fair determination of demand by industrial users, food exporters and domestic consumers, Confed said.

The industry must likewise adopt strategic measures to adjust to fast changing conditions, seek ways to optimize the utilization of the funding provided under the Sugarcane Industry Development Act (SIDA), and put its act together through active engagement in the Sugar Industry Development Council as mandated by the SIDA. The SRA must play a key leadership role at this time, it added.

The statement was signed by Ferdinand Marañon, Confed national president, Pablo Lorenzo III – Confed Luzon chairman, and Nicolas Ledesma Jr. – Confed Negros and Panay chapter chairman.

Sugar Board Member Emilio Yulo III, when asked for his reaction on the Confed statement, said he agrees with its proposal to calibrate the import program.

“As early as September last year, I had suggested the calibrated importation program to mitigate possible retail price fluctuations. As early as June, attempts have been made to start the process so that we could do an import program to bridge the end of the present crop year and the incoming one,” he said.

Unfortunately, the Board was unable to have a quorum, Yulo said.

He also said he would be more than happy to have a ready template that can resort to including triggers and caps operating from empirical data.

“We also need to, once and for all, agree on a number of inputs critical to any program such as the National Domestic Consumption and the Volume of the Strategic Buffer Stock both as to raw and refined,” Yulo added.*

 

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