CONFED scores DTI for favoring sugar imports

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    Benchmark price. The DTI proposes to allow importation of sugar if local supply breaches P1,900 per bag.
    Benchmark price. The DTI proposes to allow importation of sugar if local supply breaches P1,900 per bag.
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    The Confederation of Sugar Producers (CONFED) reiterated its position that importation will not resolve the alleged high cost of domestic sugar.

    This as the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) wants to allow food processors that sell to domestic markets to import sugar if local sugar prices cannot match the import prices.

    Raymond Montinola, CONFED spokesperson, said the DTI and the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) should resolve the issue of sugar pricing without killing the local industry.

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

    Earlier, Ramon Lopez, DTI secretary, said food processors need to be able to purchase domestic refined sugar at P1,900 per bag, instead of the P2,500 or P3,000 they sometimes pay.

    “Prices should be reduced at the retail market and not against the lowly sugar farmer… We seek clarification with regards to domestic prices, stock balances and availability of sugar as raw materials for both local manufacturers and food processor exporters so we can have a better picture to address this issue,” Montinola said.

    He added there is no need to import since 250,000 metric tons of refined sugar was already imported which should have stabilized sugar prices.

    To resolve the price gap, CONFED is urging the DTI to utilize its mandate through the Price Act to provide a price ceiling for basic necessities and prime commodities.

    “This avenue can perhaps provide the win-win solution sought after by government. …For local food manufacturers to buy directly their sugar requirements from sugar districts and associations nearest their supply hubs to avail of the low farm gate prices and avoid middlemen to further minimize on cost,” Montinola said.

    According to Nicolas Ledesma Jr., CONFED Negros and Panay chairman, food processor exporters are given import permits by SRA for their sugar supply requirements provided that the finished products are solely for export.

    “We hope that DTI will also see our side in this issue and resolve it with lawful tools they have on hand rather than incessantly calling for importation as a quick fix solution,” Ledesma said. – J. Macapagal

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