NEGOCC PROVINCIAL BOARD JUNKS SUGAR INDUSTRY LIBERALIZATION
BACOLOD CITY — Negros Occidental’s Provincial Board has approved a resolution opposing the proposal to liberalize the sugar industry, as earlier announced by Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno.
The resolution, passed on Wednesday afternoon, stated that the move would open the floodgate to the unabated massive unregulated entry of sugar being dumped by Southeast Asian neighbors with surplus production.
“The proposal would spell the demise of the local sugar industry, which is the lifeblood of Negros Occidental,” stated the resolution that was sponsored by 3rd District Board Member Manuel Frederick Ko.
It also noted that liberalizing the sugar industry could lead to the economic dislocation of hundreds of thousands of stakeholders, particularly the agrarian reform beneficiaries, small farmers, and sugar farmworkers.
Such economic dislocation would in time foment widespread social unrest, putting to naught all social economic initiatives of the province, it added.
Negros Occidental is considered the Philippines’ sugar capital, producing about 60 percent of the country’s sugar output.
Ko said the exact gravity of the effects of the liberalization of sugar imports could not yet be determined, but they are sure it will have a bad impact on the industry and its people.
“Liberalizing the importation scheme is the same as liberalizing the entire sugar industry. We, Negrenses, should not allow this move,” he added.
Copies of the resolution will be submitted to concerned government agencies, particularly the Sugar Regulatory Administration and Department of Budget and Management.
Diokno had been reported as saying that sugar in the Philippines is very expensive compared to global prices. “We plan to deregulate or relax that industry,” he added.
The proposed deregulation of sugar importation is in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s Administrative Order No. 13 issued in September last year, when inflation was at a nine-year high of 6.7 percent.
However, Ko said that unlike rice and fuel, sugar is not inflationary. “So, no to liberalization of the sugar industry, not now,” he added.
The Provincial Board’s move came after Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. said on Monday that the plan to deregulate government restrictions on imported sugar will be the death of the sugar industry. (PNA)
Photo from Philstar