Board members: Importation is not the solution
By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) board members, Attys. Emilio ‘Dino’ Yulo III and Roland Beltran, said the board was not consulted by SRA Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica over the supposed agreement with Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez to allow domestic food processors and other “end-users” to import sugar if the price of locally-produced sugar is unable to match the P1,900 per bag of imported sugar.
In a joint statement forwarded by the two board members, they said, “Arriving at a benchmark price without consultation with stakeholders is disastrous and Serafica must not attribute such agreement to SRA as we have not been consulted about the matter, much less our constituency that has been questioning the recent statements and/or agreements made by Lopez in that meeting with Serafica and domestic food processors.”
“Serafica must clarify to the sugar industry that such an agreement in principle is his own personal position and not that of the industry that was not privy to such decisions,” they added.
They also cautioned Serafica about making commitments or decisions without consultations as any position he takes can be construed as a policy statement, which can be disastrous to the industry if not properly consulted.
“We had to parry questions and accusations from our constituents as a result of the recent pronouncements of Lopez, attributing the same to the administrator,” they said.
The pair added, their position is that importation is not the solution for alleged high domestic prices of sugar.
They added, there are also mechanisms in place that allow food processing exporters to import required goods and anything beyond this must be properly consulted with all industry stakeholders.
Earlier this week, Lopez said Serafica gave his commitment to make available lower and competitively-priced sugar for food processors.
“We were just talking but we can formalize that agreement if we had the assurance that they will allow importation for those who need it, especially if the local price cannot match the imported price of around P1,900 per bag,” the cabinet official explained. “Of course, we prefer local but, if they cannot get sugar at that price, you should allow them [to import].”
“It’s like we have a benchmark,” he added. “That was my suggestion to SRA and they agreed in principle.”/DGB, WDJ