New DA chief to review sugar liberalization proposal
Agriculture Secretary William Dar has been back in public office for less than 24 hours and has already stepped on a controversial issue. He supports the liberalization of the sugar industry.
In an interview on Tuesday, Dar said he will review the proposal to liberalize the sugar industry, which will allow the unlimited importation of sugar.
Such move, which is being proposed by food processors and some of the country’s economic managers, is being opposed by local sugar producers, millers, and farmers as it may kill the local production of sugar and affect as much as 700,000 workers.
In an earlier report, members of the Philippine Sugar Millers Association (PSMA) said they are puzzled as to why the government is pushing for the liberalization of sugar industry even if it means sabotaging their investments on the struggling sector.
“With encouragement from government through the laws on Biofuels, Renewable Energy and the Sugar Industry Development Act, the mills have invested billions over the years in improving our production systems and have supported the communities and people where our mills are located,” PSMA Executive Director Jesus “Cocoy” L. Barrera earlier said.
“And now, government wants to allow the unrestricted entry of imported sugar into our market,” he added.
Barrera’s statement came after Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said that the government is still keen on liberalizing the sugar industry amid the high cost of the commodity.
According to Dominguez, the price of sugar in the Philippines is still way higher than in Thailand or in other countries.
Barrera, for his part, said that imported sugar from the world market is priced below production cost and highly subsidized, which is why it is cheaper than the locally produced sugar.
“Import liberalization means that subsidized sugar produced by Indian or Thai farmer is preferred over sugar produced by Filipino farmers,” he further said.