SRA board split over high cost of sugar, importation

Published January 10, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Madelaine B. Miraflor

The long-standing issue on the high cost of sugar in the country and importation has divided the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) board, with two members going against SRA Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica.

This was after Serafica supposedly agreed with Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez that domestic food processors and other end-users should be allowed to import sugar if the price of locally produced sugar could not match the ₱1,900 per kilo bag of imported sugar.

In a joint statement, SRA Board Members Emilio Yulo and Roland Beltran issued a “disclaimer” with regards to this “supposed” agreement.

“Arriving at a benchmark price without consultation with stakeholders is disastrous and Administrator 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 Secretary Lopez in that meeting with Administrator Serafica and domestic food processors,” Yulo and Beltran said.

Chaired by Agriculture Secretary William Dar, SRA Board is composed of four members, including Serafica, Yulo, and Beltran. Yulo is representing the sugar planters in the board, while Beltran is representing the millers.

Yulo and Beltran said that Serafica must clarify to the sugar industry that such agreement with Lopez in principle “is his own personal position and not that of the industry that was not privy to such decisions.”

“We would also like to caution the Administrator in making commitments or decisions without consultation as any position he takes can be construed as a policy statement which can be disastrous to the industry if not properly consulted,” they further said.

“We had to parry questions and accusations from our constituents as a result of the recent pronouncements of Secretary Lopez, attributing the same to the Administrator,” they added.

Then they reiterated their position that importation is not the solution for alleged high domestic prices of sugar.