Senators nix sugar import liberalization

BACOLOD City – Ten senators signed a resolution urging the executive department to drop the proposed liberalization of the sugar industry.

Senate Resolution No. 1014 was introduced on Feb 6, 2019 by Senators Sonny Angara, Maria Lourdes Nancy Binay, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Sherwin Gatchalian, Richard Gordon, Loren Legarda, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, Joel Villanueva, Cynthia Villar, and Juan Miguel Zubiri.

Based on the resolution, the senators said recent statements made by economic managers on the propose sugar import liberalization “created a stir and fear among the stakeholders in the sugar industry.”

The senators pointed out that liberalization or deregulation of the sugar industry will not affect the competitiveness of sugar-containing food products for export because it is already a policy of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) to allow food exporters to openly import sugar without value-added tax or customs duties provided that the end-product is exported and not sold locally.

“The deregulated entry of subsidized sugar in the country’s market will be disastrous to the local industry, which contributed an estimated P96 billion to the gross domestic product and would affect almost 5 million individuals working in the sugar industry.”

They also pointed to the Sugar Industry Development Act, which was enacted in 2015, which adopts as State policy efforts “to promote the competitiveness of the sugarcane industry and maximize the utilization of sugarcane resources.”

The senators added that the proposed liberalization will contradict President Rodirgo Duterte’s thrust towards food security and will severely affect the entire agriculture sector.

In response, SRA Board Member Emilio ‘Dino’ Yulo III said they are thankful for the senators’ support as it shows that they understand the plight of the sugar industry and its stakeholders.