Gov't must listen to stakeholders before deregulating sugar imports – Piñol
MANILA, Philippines – Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said that the government should pay heed to sugar industry stakeholders before considering to liberalize sugar imports.
This comes after the Department of Agriculture's meeting with stakeholders, where the private sector had said that the government should look not only at how deregulation of imports can benefit manufacturers.
"They said that this hampers the capability of local processors to compete," Piñol told reporters last Thursday, February 21. (READ: Gov't body, producers reject sugar import liberalization)
The agriculture chief said that during the Sugar Industry Stakeholder's Summit, sugar producers had asked for the government to provide social support to poor farmers.
Confederation of Sugar Producers spokesperson Raymond Montinola had confirmed in previous statements that 80% of sugarcane planters are land reform beneficiaries.
"So what the stakeholders said...'Look at the social impact on the very people who actually will be convinced by the insurgents in the countryside to join them the moment life will be difficult for them,'" Piñol said.
Last week, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said that they have been looking into new schemes as to how liberalizing sugar imports would work, despite a number of senators passing a resolution to bar the said plan.
One of these proposals involves setting a type of "floor price" in addition to the 5% tariff rate for the ASEAN Trade in Good Agreement.
In January, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the government is eyeing the deregulation of sugar imports as a move to make the barely recovering industry more competitive.
In 2018, the country saw climbing sugar prices amid the drop in production. This was aside from the alleged sugar cartel and smuggling that industry stakeholders had been asking the government to deal with. – Rappler.com