Sugar tariffication law pushed as prices rise, supplies drop

Jekki Pascual, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 17 2022 04:35 PM

MANILA - Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Felipe Medalla on Wednesday proposed that the government set up a tariff scheme on imported sugar as food manufacturers appealed to allow more sugar imports while farmers' groups opposed hiking import quotas. 

At a forum organized by the Economic Journalists of the Philippines, Medalla said that instead of quotas, it would be better to allow stakeholders to do the importing with tariffs as this would also prevent corruption.

"To allow imports, the following conditions must be met, then you already need a bureaucracy to decide. The other way is the rice model, which is you want to protect it, choose 100% tariff, do you want 75. Let the debate be on the tariff level," he said.

Medalla added that this would also reduce red tape and possible smuggling. 

Like the Rice Tariffication Law, he said revenues may also go to farmers instead of bureaucrats who may get under-the-table payments for import allotments.

"The lesson from rice tariffication is tariff is the most transparent and efficient protection."

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr has earlier said the country may import 150,000 metric tons of sugar in October as sugar supply dwindles. 

This was down from the proposed 300,000 MT earlier announced by the government. 

The Rice Tariffication Law was approved in 2019 after rice prices surged in previous years. While the surge in imported rice brought down prices for consumers, many farmers groups said the measure also reduced their incomes and they found it difficult to compete with cheap imports. 

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