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CONFED asks SRA for transparency, fairness and accountability

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• GILBERT P. BAYORAN

The Confederation of Sugar Producers Association yesterday called on the government to exercise transparency, fairness and accountability in the implementation of the proposed sugar importation program.

“We reiterate our position that the importation program should be implemented in an open, transparent and equitable manner,” CONFED president Aurelio Gerardo Valderrama Jr., said in his letter addressed to the Sugar Regulatory Administration.

CONFED, National Federation of Sugarcane Planters and Panay Federation of Sugarcane Farmers also called on SRA earlier to trim the sugar to be imported from the proposed P450,000 metric tons to 350,000 MT, a two-month buffer stock of sugar.

The importation should be allocated on a 50:50 ratio between industrial users and sugar producers, while all interested accredited sugar traders should be qualified to participate in the program, CONFED stressed in a statement it issued.

The letter, signed by Valderrama, was also addressed to President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., the concurrent Agriculture Secretary and head of SRA’s Sugar Board, which formulates the country’s sugar policies.

In its letter to SRA dated January 27, CONFED recommended that the importation of 350,000 metric tons of sugar should arrive in two tranches of 175,000 metric tons each, on July and August, which corresponds to the end of the current milling season and before the opening of the next milling season, so the importation will not depress mill gate prices of sugar.

CONFED also reiterated its position in its letter to SRA yesterday, specifying that the importation volume should be composed of 300,000 metric tons refined sugar and 50,000 metric tons raw sugar, to arrive not earlier than July 2023.

It also urged SRA to adopt importation guidelines which are transparent and allows the participation not only of industrial users but also of sugar producers and other interested accredited sugar traders.

Sugar farmers and millers, through their federations, associations or cooperatives which are accredited sugar traders, or through other accredited sugar traders, should be qualified to apply for and import their allocation of 50 percent of the proposed volume, CONFED added   

For sugar producers, the importation allocation should be based on their percentage of production in Crop Year 2021-2022. For industrial users, their allocation should be based on their SRA-verified requirements, as determined by their record of excise tax or VAT payments, and subject to voluntary submission of applications and record of actual importation by accredited sugar traders.

To ensure transparency, CONFED further recommended that all applications for importation should be submitted within five days upon the effectivity of the appropriate Sugar Order allowing the importation.

It added that all submitted applications should be opened at the end of the five days, and then published and made available to all applicants.

Within 10 working days after the deadline of submission, the evaluation of applications should be conducted, and immediately awarded and announced, CONFED emphasized.*

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