BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The Confederation of Sugar Producers (CONFED) urged the Sugar Regulatory Administration to make appropriate revisions on its issued Sugar Order Number 3, which allows importation of 200,000 metric tons of sugar, that would be more responsive to the interests of its most affected stakeholders.
While CONFED is concerned primarily with the interest of its planter-members, we are not oblivious of the need to balance the interest of all sectors in society, the sugar planter’s group said in a statement it issued.
The SRA has temporarily held in abeyance the sugar importation following the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order issued by the court, its administrator, Hermenegildo Serafica, earlier said.
CONFED said it took a firm stand on the issue of importation in a way it deemed fair to all concerned, under terms it considered ideal for inclusion in the crafting of the sugar order.
It has submitted a position paper to SRA which contained proposals, stressing that sugar importation should be calibrated and well-timed so as not to unduly affect the domestic market for raw sugar;
The volume allowed for importation shall be an initial 50,000 MT of refined sugar (standard, bottler’s grade or premium,) to be authorized through a Sugar Order at the earliest possible time;
Total imports should not exceed an additional 100,000 MT, if determined – in consultation with industry stakeholders – to be necessary, with importation allowed only for industrial end-users, preferably on a pro-rata basis according to SRA-verified requirements of qualified applicants;
SRA shall establish the appropriate application/allocation guidelines to ensure fair allocations to qualified end-users who may import directly if authorized as sugar traders or through SRA-accredited sugar traders of their choice;
All imported sugar under this program shall be classified as “C” or Reserve sugar, subject to the issuance of SRA Release Orders prior to withdrawal from the Bureau of Customs;
And for the SRA to inform industry stakeholders on the implementation of the import program, to include all approved allocations and deliveries/withdrawals by concerned parties, for purposes of transparency and discussion of subsequent actions that may be called for.
SRA did not accept CONFED’s proposal with regards to the volume of importation, but included in SO3 its proposal to classify as “C” or reserve sugar all importation, it added.
CONFED admitted that news of sugar importation has already pulled down the prices of sugar by more than P200 per bag.
NDF OPPOSES SUGAR IMPORTATION
The National Democratic Front- Negros also expressed its vehement opposition to the sugar importation.
In a statement, NDF-Negros spokesman Ka Bayani Obrero said that the sugar importation, if pushed through, will adversely affect the prices of local sugar to adjust with the sudden bulk of supply.
Once prices of sugar drop locally, most assuredly it will also result to the dwindling of income of sugar mills and other related businesses that will primarily hit sugarcane planters, mill and farm workers, and their families, Obrero said.
While NDF-Negros appreciates the initial of various sectors to reject and prevent the importation from proceeding, Obrero has called on sugarcane planters, business owners and politicians to anchor their efforts with the downtrodden majority of farmers and workers.*