SRA execs deny pact with DTI secretary

By: Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – Sugar Regulatory Administrator directors Atty. Dino Yulo and Atty. Roland Beltran disclaimed a supposed agreement between Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Sec. Ramon Lopez and Sugar Regulatory Administrator (SRA) Hermenegildo Serafica as published in news reports.

The purported agreement stated that “in principle,” domestic food processors and other end-users should be allowed to import sugar if the price of locally produced sugar cannot match the P1,900 per bag of imported sugar.”

In a statement issued on Jan 9, 2019, Yulo and Beltran said “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 Sec. Lopez in that meeting with Administrator Serafica and domestic food processors.”

Serafica must clarify to the sugar industry that such agreement in principle is his own personal position and not that of the industry that was not privy to such decisions, the statement said.

Both also said that “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.”

“We had to parry questions and accusations from our constituents as a result of the recent pronouncements of Sec. Lopez, attributing the same to the Administrator,” they added.

“We reiterate our position at this point that importation is not the solution for alleged high domestic prices of sugar. There are also mechanisms in place that allow food processors and exporters to import their requirements and anything beyond this must be properly consulted first with all industry stakeholders.”