Sugar importation policy hampering development of sugarcane industry: senator

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 18 2022 02:34 PM

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MANILA – Senator JV Ejercito on Thursday said the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA)'s importation policy may have been hurting the Philippines' sugarcane industry.

Speaking on ANC's "Headstart," Ejercito said it was because of the agency’s importation policies that his law, the Sugarcane Industry Development Act of 2015, failed to achieve its goal.

“The Sugarcane Industry Development Act was designed, again, to strengthen the sugarcane industry, revitalize, because most of our sugar mills are more than 50, 60, 70 years old. So they are inefficient, they cost so much to run, so you had to have new sugar mills,” he told ANC’s “Headstart.”

“So, there’s a P2 billion fund allotted every year for the development of the sugarcane industry, modernize the farming methods, mechanize, so, through the years, because of too much importation, traders were so used to just importing instead of producing, so hindi po natuloy yon (that did not push through).”

“The P2 billion was reduced to about P700 million because it was not utilized. So sayang,” he noted.

The lawmaker said he welcomes President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.'s decision to revamp the SRA. 

Ejercito said he hopes new officials who will be appointed to the SRA would not depend on importing as much as the previous officials did, and instead prioritize helping local farmers.

The senator said someone from the sugar industry should head the SRA.

“Someone who’s knowledgeable, and knows the industry, and someone who has the heart to really revitalize, to strengthen the sugarcane industry once again. Who has the heart for the farmers, the planters…na hindi panay importation,” he said. 

--ANC, 18 August 2022