The Sugar Board assured yesterday that there will be no conversion of “D”sugar intended for the world market into “B”for sale in the domestic marketthis milling season.
However, sugar industry leaders yesterday questioned the board’s conversion of 9,196 metric tons of imported High Fructose Corn Syrupof Pepsi Cola from “D” to “B”.
Sugar Board Member Roland Beltran said the HFCS “was reclassified from ‘D’ to ‘B’, not for commercial use, but to be destroyed in accordance with its disposal plan”.
There is no reason for conversion of “D” sugar to “B” for sale since there is sufficient supply for the domestic market and enough buffer stock for the next cropping season, CY 2018-2019, Beltran said.
The Sugar Board members agreed to issue an official statement to put an end to speculations that the Sugar Regulatory Administration will convert outstanding “D” sugar into “B”, Beltran said.
Meanwhile, Sugar Order 1-B Series of 2017-2018 approved by SRA Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica, and Sugar Board members Beltran and Emilio Yulo III, amends the sugar classification of the current crop year into 6 percent “A” or US sugar and 94 percent “B” or domestic market sugar.
“This policy issuance was in response to the recommendations of various planters organizations and the Sugar Alliance of the Philippines to eliminate the 1 percent ‘D’ allocation, thus, improve the composite price of sugar,” Beltran said.
The Sugar Board members forecast an extended milling season and the probability of harvesting a second crop in Negros Occidental, he added.
Beltran said the Sugar Board also decided on the disposal of the HFCS inventories of Pepsi Cola kept at the customs territory.
The disposal will be managed by Cleanway in such a way that it will not be a hazard to the environment, he said.
The SRA had earlier classified the HFCS import shipment of Pepsi Cola into “D” sugar.
Manuel Lamata, United Sugar Producers Federation of the Philippines president, said he findsconfusing the statement of Beltran that there will be no conversion of “D” to “B”, and yet they converted the “D” of Pepsi to “B”. Why give Pepsi the preference and not the local traders? Our lawyers are looking into this illegal order from the SRA. Heads will roll.”
Francis de la Rama of the Confederation of Sugar Producers Associations said “It is confusing since there should be no conversion from ‘D’ to ‘B’ however why did SRA allow Pepsi to convert HFCS from ‘D’ to ‘B’ for disposal? How will they dispose of this? Who will monitor the said disposal?”
The HFCS had to be converted to “B” for it to be released for disposal, Beltran said.
Beltran said Pepsi is required to submit a monthly report to the SRA Regulation Department on the progress of the disposal.
“Of course, the presumption is in favor of regularity in the performance of an undertaking unless there is proof to the contrary,” he said.
Yulo said he voted against the request of Pepsi to reclassify imported HFCS from "D" to "B" to enable it to dispose of those imported HFCS.
“It was a pure business decision on Pepsi's part to bring in HFCS. Simply put, the motivation was profit. However, the TRAIN law was passed and it made the use of HFCS untenable business-wise and Pepsi was left with such a large volume of imported HFCS,” he said.
Pepsi is supposed to engage the services of a corporation engaged in the business of disposal of waste materials, Yulo said.
Enrique Rojas, National Federation of Sugarcane Planters president, said they laud Serafica for listening to the sentiment of the sugar producers by clarifying that there will be no conversion of "D" sugar to "B" sugar.
“This shows that he has the best interests of the sugar farmers at heart. With this, we can look forward to more stable and favorable sugar prices,” he said.
On the other hand, Rojas said the sugar producers are against the SRA decision allowing the conversion of HFCS intended for export to the world market into "B".
“The beverage manufacturers imported HFCS against our will. It is their fault that they can't export their excess HFCS and they should pay the consequences,” he said.
Rojas said they urge SRA to reconsider its decision and rescind the conversion.
“It will set a precedent for other beverage makers to dump and sell their HFCS in the domestic market,” he added.
Wennie Sancho, General Alliance of Workers Association secretary general, said GAWAis thankful that SRA has considered the workers opposition to any conversion from “D” to “B”.
All stakeholders in the sugar industry must unite for its recovery, that is crucial to labor’s bid for a wage hike, Sancho added.*CPG
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