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BIZ BUZZ: Sweet deal

/ 04:02 AM August 30, 2021

Sugar planters can expect a sweet deal from the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA), and they have the skies to thank.

According to our sources at the agency, SRA board members agreed that the sugar production from this coming crop year beginning in September will be exclusive for domestic use.

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The decision was made after the state weather bureau’s projection of a good weather for sugarcane production from October this year to January next year. SRA estimated that raw sugar production for the coming crop year may hit 2.09 million metric tons. Even with the expected overhead from the current crop year, it said that “the country’s sugar supply situation is better served with an all “B” domestic sugar allocation for this crop year.”

While a boon for sugar producers, it is bad news for other industry players that have requested for a 7 to 8 percent allocation for exports.

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The SRA is expected to release its Sugar Order 1 this week, which will dictate the direction of its policies for the crop year. In this agency, however, nothing is set in stone. For this current crop year, the SRA said it would not allow importation but eventually yielded. As we like to say in this column, abangan!

—Karl R. Ocampo

Park advocacy

A heritage conservation advocacy group has asked the government to rethink plans to privatize eight parcels of land with a combined area of 20,975 square meters along Isla de Provisor in Paco, Manila. The Philippine unit of The International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage (TICCIH) called for the development of the area into a park and civic center instead, noting this would turn it into a catalyst for urban regeneration and restore Manila’s connection with the Pasig River.

The lots are owned by the state-controlled Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (Psalm), which hopes to raise at least P527.09 million from the sale.

“Why an open space on Isla de Provisor? Given the geography of the area, Isla de Provisor can be linked more to the islands that comprise Quiapo, San Sebastián, San Miguel and Isla de Convalecencia. Thus said, the buildable quality of its soil is something that needs so much work (pile-driving, etc),” TICCIH Philippines president Ivan Anthony Henares said in a position paper submitted to Psalm and other pertinent government agencies.

“Coupled with the restrictions on height and density owing to its proximity to the Malacañang Palace and being directly in the sightline of Rizal Park, it will be a far better option to develop the place into a park and civic center to be enjoyed by those that live, work and study in the area, including Adamson University, Philippine Normal University and the Technological University of the Philippines,” he added.

As Isla de Provisor is similar in size to the nearby Arroceros Forest Park, which is currently being expanded given its important role as the “last lung” of Manila, having another green area one kilometer downstream could help improve the liveability of the area, according to Henares.

For TICCIH, Isla de Provisor could be connected by pedestrian bridge to Isla de Convalecencia to form the Pasig River Islands City Park. A riverbank easement promenade and pedestrian bridge could in turn connect Arroceros to Provisor. The Government of Manila could partner with neighboring Unilever and Puregold to provide park facilities at Provisor, he added.

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“Converting the site into a public park will contribute to the reduction in the river and bay pollutants,” Henares added. He suggested building a competition-standard skatepark to provide a venue for the youth, for both recreation and training, thereby helping curb the crime rate.

But with the bidders for the property expected to come from the construction and steel sectors, TICCIH said the sale was wasting an opportunity to improve quality of life in this part of the capital.

“This is unfortunately an example of how short-sighted thinking prevalent in many government policies stifles creativity and sustainable development,” Henares said.

Metro Manila has only 200 hectares of parks, along with civic spaces, giving about 1 square meter of public park and open space (PPOS) per person. The goal is to provide a minimum of 9 sqms of urban green space per person, based on World Health Organization standard.

Henares noted Singapore has 320 parks totalling 2,500 hectares. Along with park corridors and civic open spaces, Singaporeans have about 60 sqms of PPOS per person.

—Doris Dumlao-Abadilla INQ

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TAGS: Business, park, Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA)
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