No cause for alarm, sugarcane farmers toldBy Niña P. Calleja
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The head of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) on friday assured industry stakeholders that the produce of local sugarcane farmers would not be adversely affected by the entry of sugar products from abroad.
“There is no cause for alarm,” SRA administrator Regina Martin told industry stakeholders.
She said that, contrary to earlier reports, the Custom-bonded warehouse (CBW) sugar imports were cut almost by half in 2012.
According to SRA data, CBW imports went down in 2012 to 57,006 metric tons from 107, 485 MT the previous year.
SRA, an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture, said that, because of market forces, the prices of domestic sugar came out lower than that of other countries.
The millsite price of domestic sugar in 2012 averaged P1,450 a bag of raw sugar (50 kilos a bag)—lower than the P1,527 a bag recorded the previous year.
The data from SRA ran counter to the claims of the Sugar Master Plan Foundation Inc.’s (SMPFI), which said that the refined sugar imports in 2012 jumped by more than 24 percent, displacing the produce of 3,200 sugarcane farmers.
According to Martin, the SRA based its data on the volume of sugar that had been cleared for importation.
“I understand where they are coming from, as the tariff on imported sugar would be eventually reduced by 5 percent in 2015. They are afraid that more imported products would soon enter the local market,” Martin said.
The SRA head said the agency would back the SMPFI’s effort to persuade the Philippine Economic Zone Authority to reclassify the mills, farms and refineries of sugar-related businesses as economic zones.
Once listed as an economic zone, a sugar company will be entitled to benefits and special economic privileges.
But for sugar businesses to be classified as zones, House Bill 6113 or the Sugarcane Industry Development Act of 2012, should first be enacted, Martin said.
The bill seeks to support the sugarcane industry by funding, for instance, research and development.