Bacolod council joins opposition to sugar import liberalization

By: Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – The Sangguniang Panglungsod here is the latest to oppose the national government’s plan to liberalize sugar importation.

The SP unanimously passed a resolution authored by Councilor Al Victor Espino expressing strong opposition to sugar import liberalization in order to safeguard the sugar industry.

To recall, the Department of Finance issued an Economic Bulletin on Sept 27, 2019 wherein it called for the removal of quantitative restrictions on sugar importation.

The import liberalization is being proposed because local sugar prices are higher than the world market prices.

But Espino said “it is not correct to compare local market prices with world market prices because the world sugar market is where major sugar exporting countries such as Thailand and India sell their excess sugar below their production cost.”

Espino further said that the liberalization on the importation of sugar would lead to the demise of the local sugar industry and will affect the economic growth of Bacolod City.

“The import liberalization of sugar could lead to the economic dislocation of hundreds of thousands of stakeholders, particularly the agrarian reform beneficiaries, small farmers, and sugar farmworkers considering that eighty-two percent (82%) of sugar farmers in the country are ARBs, or agrarian reform beneficiaries,” Espino said.

Earlier, Tatak Kalamay, an umbrella organization of sugar industry stakeholders, called on economic managers of the national government not to push through with the planned sugar import liberalization as it would spell the collapse of the sugar industry.

Last Tuesday the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in a unanimously passed resolution called on President Duterte to stop the planned liberalization of sugar importation.