BACOLOD City – Various stakeholders in the sugar industry on Sept 11, 2018 expressed opposition to the proposed open importation of sugar by industrial users.
Jose Maria Montinola of the Victorias Planters Association said in a press conference that the proposal of direct sugar importation was made by the Economic Development Cluster to address inflation in the country.
“Why include sugar when it is not included as a prime commodity by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)?” Montinola asked.
He said that it is the big industrial users who “agitated the economic managers of the president to recommend such a proposal.”
He added that, “there is no need to import sugar because there will be supply as the milling season has just started.”
The proposal to allow industrial users to directly import sugar was made by the Sugar Regulatory Administration as part of reforms to reduce food prices.
It is in the list of reforms suggested during a meeting of the Economic Cluster of the Cabinet on Sept 5 aimed at addressing the current inflation suffered by the country.
“Importing sugar is not the solution to the current inflation. It will instead lead to economic disaster with many small farmers and cooperatives forced to close down because of low sugar prices caused by sugar importation. It will mean many workers will lose jobs,” said Winnie Sancho of General Alliance of Workers Association (GAWA).
Jun de la Cruz of the National Congress of Unions in the Sugar Industry of the Philippines (NACUSIP) said that the proposal was made “without consulting the workers.”
Enrique Tayo of the Negros Occidental Federation of Farmers Association also said that they were not consulted too.
If it will materialize, Tayo said they will be forced to take to the streets, “all the way to Malacañang to express their concern.”