SUGAR PLANTERS and millers on the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) board said they were not consulted after the agency’s administrator signaled his willingness to allow food processors to import sugar should domestic prices prove uncompetitive.
“(SRA) Administrator (Hermenegildo R.) 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 board’s Sugar Planters Representative Emilio Bernardino L. Yulo, and Millers Representative Roland B. Beltran said in a joint statement Thursday.
They added that the board was not consulted on the import and price benchmarking scheme.
Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said that he asked the SRA to allow food processors to import sugar if domestic prices cannot match a price of about P1,900 per 50-kilogram bag.
The government has noted that the high price of domestic sugar is weighing down the growth of the food processing industry. The Department of Finance (DoF) formally proposed sugar imports in September 2019, a plan that is currently on hold amid opposition from the industry.
Mr. Serafica said that he told Mr. Lopez that the current importation program of the SRA of requires food processors to register with the agency.
“I explained to Secretary Lopez that food processors can participate in any importation program for as long as they are SRA-registered international traders. All they have to do is register so they can participate,” he said in a text message.
He also told Mr. Lopez about an import program for those who need to import sugar to make products for export.
“They can register with the BoC (Bureau of Customs) as (operators of a) Customs-Bonded Warehouse (CBW) and avail of import allocations under SRA’s program for CBWs. This program of SRA for CBW/food processors/manufacturers was started in the ’90s and has been in place for about three decades now,” he said. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang