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DTI's sugar import plan spells trouble - SRA chief

- Marianne V. Go -

MANILA, Philippines - Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) head Rafael Coscolluela foresees trouble with the plan of Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila to allocate to industrial users a portion of the 150,000 metric tons of sugar that the National Food Authority will be importing to supposedly stem a rise in domestic sugar prices.

In an interview with The STAR, Coscolluela pointed out that in the first place “there won’t be enough to meet their requirements.” He also wondered “who will decide how much goes to whom?”

The SRA head warned, “magiging source of graft or gulo lang yan (it will only become a source of graft or trouble).”

However, if the collective decision is to go ahead and allocate a portion to industrial users, Coscolluela is recommending that “the imports should go to food exporters with approved allocations and to the consumer market through the NFA and other retail outlets.”

Coscolluela warned that “the producers are threatening to go to court if subsidized imports go to industrial users.”

The duty-free raw sugar to be imported would make use of the Tax Expenditure Fund (TEF) which means the government will be subsidizing the importation.

In an exclusive interview with The STAR, Favila said he is in favor of allocating a portion of the planned 150,000 metric ton importation of sugar for industrial users.

According to Favila, the government would evaluate the food product that would need the sugar allocation.

“We will decide whether the food product is a consumer staple,” Favila said, brushing aside the SRA’s fear that allowing industrial users to avail of the duty-free sugar would “ruin the industry.”

Favila said Finance Secretary Margarito Teves and Agriculture Secretary Arthur C. Yap support his position and that it was Yap who had initially recommended the importation of sugar to meet consumer demand.

COSCOLLUELA

FAVILA

FINANCE SECRETARY MARGARITO TEVES AND AGRICULTURE SECRETARY ARTHUR C

NATIONAL FOOD AUTHORITY

RAFAEL COSCOLLUELA

SUGAR

SUGAR REGULATORY ADMINISTRATION

TAX EXPENDITURE FUND

TRADE AND INDUSTRY SECRETARY PETER FAVILA

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