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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, January 22, 2019
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Negros group denounces plan
to liberalize sugar importation
BY MARK L. GARCIA

 

A group of sugar and mill workers in Negros Occidental yesterday denounced the proposal to deregulate sugar importation in the country, saying it would kill the local industry and cause adverse effects to the workers and their families.

Save Sugar Industry Movement convenor, Wennie Sancho, in a statement yesterday, said that to liberalize the importation of sugar is alarming for the workers as it will cause apprehension to the workers, with its adverse economic impact on their families and continued employment.

Last week, Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno announced that the government is eyeing to liberalize the importation of sugar to pull down its price and increase the competitiveness of the industry, following the approval of Congress of the rice tariffication bill.

“Next is sugar. You know why? Because it’s one of the inputs to our potential exports,” he said, adding, “Sugar in the Philippines is very expensive compared to the global rate, so we plan to deregulate or relax.”

Sancho said this proposal is alarming, as it will bring down the millsite prices of local sugar and if imported sugar will flood the country, the local industry will die.

“Liberalized importation of sugar would surely kill the local sugar industry. We do not want, we should not kill the goose that lays the golden egg,” Sancho said in an interview.

The group is opposing the proposal and calling on the government to instead go after unscrupulous traders and retailers for taking advantage of the situation, Sancho said.

They are calling for solidarity among sugar industry workers, including the agrarian reform beneficiaries and small farmers to oppose the sugar importation deregulation scheme to give a strong message to the government of how this proposal will ruin the local industry.

Earlier, Sugar Regulatory Administration Board Members Roland Beltran and Dino Yulo also expressed their opposition to the proposal, since the move will heighten the restlessness of producers over the future of the industry.

In a joint statement, they said the announcement has resulted in the further drop in millsite sugar prices at the time it was entering peak milling, and heightened the restlessness of sugar producers not only over the future of the industry, but also the continued employment of sugar workers.*

 

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