Neda: Liberalization of sugar industry next
The government is eyeing to allow private users to directly import sugar to cut its costs and bring down domestic retail prices, according to officials of the state planning agency National Economic and Development Authority (Neda).
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and Neda chief Ernesto Pernia told reporters last week that among the reforms planned for the sugar sector included imposing an import tariff similar to the ongoing moves to tax rice imports.
Also, Pernia said the Duterte administration’s economic team was looking to allow users to import directly
in order to avoid intermediation costs.
Doing so would do away with the current function of
the Sugar Regulatory Administration to license importers,
“If you allow imports, you will bring down local prices,” Pernia said.
Domestic prices are currently higher compared to other neighboring countries, according to the Neda chief. This, despite higher demand here.
Neda Undersecretary Rosemarie Edillon added lower prices would also trickle down to food manufacturing costs, as sugar is a raw material for many processed food items.
Edillon said more sugar imports could be sourced from South America and China.
Pernia said these reforms could be introduced through a draft bill to be pitched to Congress or an executive fiat removing the import constraints.
Edillon said the economic cluster tapped economist Ramon Clarete to undertake a study on the current sugar
importation policies and regulations.
She said they wanted to introduce a bill aimed at liberalizing the sugar industry coinciding with the start of the 18th Congress by midyear.
For his part, Pernia said it would be “the sooner, the better” to introduce reforms in the sugar sector.
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