Deconstruct greed

To prevent another controversy regarding importations, such as what transpired after the botched Sugar Order 4, the government must come up with a plan that will provide for calibrated importation.

At the behest of large industrial users, the Sugar Regulatory Administration had periodically sought importation, even as it coincided with the milling season, affecting the viability of the industry.

The shortage appears periodically and supply can be augmented by diverting some of the sugar allocation to the US market required under its government’s tariff rate quota system.

US officials said that the Philippine government needed only to inform its US counterpart about sugar requirements to allow exports to be reclassified and used in the domestic market.

Negros-based Central Azucarera de Bais and Central Azucarera de San Antonio are offering 9,679.322 metric tons of raw sugar to ease the supposed shortage that triggered SO 4 that sought the oversized importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar.

Producers said the conversion will take care of the needs of the domestic market until the next milling season in October or November.

According to the producers, prior to the term of SRA administrator Hermenegildo Serafica and Department of Agriculture secretary William Dar, the government implemented a program that allows the conversion of raw sugar, “quedaned as Class A for export to the US market were recalled and reclassified as Class B” to address shortages in sugar supply.

This was the case in Sugar Order 11 series of 2014-2015, the producers explained.

Both officials turned down the conversion proposal of the sugar producers on 13 June after sitting on it for half a year, since the producers issued their request in January 2022.

The prior SRA order allowing the conversion disproved the claim of Serafica that allowing the reclassification “will set a bad precedent,” according to the producers.

Owning among the industry’s biggest sugarcane facilities, the planters said the SRA’s mandate is to give priority to the domestic over the export market.

The producers said SRA should ensure that there is a balance in the supply of sugar vis-a-vis demand and consumption.

“Serafica attributed the current shortage in sugar supply to the efforts of some sugar producers to block the import program,” according to the industry stakeholders.

Such an argument only exposed the sugar regulator’s proclivity to import, the reason for which is so obvious, which is to gain access to cheap imports.

Importation is always at the expense of local producers who eventually succumb to losses and join the ranks of traders.

Greed for a fast buck had destroyed many of the country’s cogs of economic progress.

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