Clarification on sugar imports sought

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    Board members of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) are urging their administrator, Hermenegildo Serafica. and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to clarify their statements on a supposed agreement with domestic food processors and other end-users allowing the importation of sugar if the price of locally produced sugar cannot match the P1,900 per bag imported price.

    The explanation was being sought by SRA planters representative board member, Dino Yulo and SRA millers representative board member, Roland Beltran.

    ‘‘Arriving at a benchmark price without consultation with stakeholders is disastrous and administrator Serafica must not attribute such agreement to SRA as we have not been consulted about the matter, much less our constituency that has been questioning the recent statements and or agreements made by (DTI) secretary (Ramon) Lopez in that meeting with administrator Serafica and domestic food processors,’’ the officials said in a joint statement.

    Yulo and Beltran said industry was not privy to such decision.

    ‘‘We would also like to caution the administrator in making commitments or decisions without consultation as any position he takes can be construed as a policy statement which can be disastrous to the industry if not properly consulted,’’ they added.

    They said such olicy move should be reconsidered as there are mechanisms in place that allow food exporters to import their sugar requirements.

    The Confederation of Sugar Producers (CONFED) also reiterated its position that importation will not resolve the alleged high cost of domestic sugar amid the DTI’s recent pronouncement.

    CONFED spokesperson, Raymond Montinola, noted that the burden to reduce prices must not be pressed over to sugar farmers as farm gate prices are only pegged at P30 per kg. for brown sugar and P1,500 per 50 kg bag for white sugar.

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