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Bill proposes abolition of SRA

Shiela Crisostomo - The Philippine Star
Bill proposes abolition of SRA
In House Bill No. 5081 filed last Sept. 21, Manila (6th District) Rep. Benny Abante Jr. is proposing to scrap the SRA, which was created by virtue of Executive Order (EO) No. 18 issued by the late president Corazon Aquino in May 1986 to regulate the sugar industry.
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MANILA, Philippines — The Sugar Regulatory Authority (SRA) is the “problem” and should be abolished,according to a member of the House of Representatives.

In House Bill No. 5081 filed last Sept. 21, Manila (6th District) Rep. Benny Abante Jr. is proposing to scrap the SRA, which was created by virtue of Executive Order (EO) No. 18 issued by the late president Corazon Aquino in May 1986 to regulate the sugar industry.

The bill’s explanatory note, however, said SRA “has not helped find any solution” to the looming food crisis triggered by a “problematic sugar industry.”

Contributing to the problem, the measure stated, are the “incompetence and corruption that is prevalent in the SRA,” which was recently embroiled in the aborted importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar.

“In fact, the SRA is the problem,” the bill said, citing Republic Act 8178 or the Agricultural Tariffication Act of 1996.

The law has eliminated quantitative restrictions on importation of agricultural products, except rice, tariffed much later in 2018, replacing them with more transparent import tariffs.

But the bill noted in actual practice, importation remained tightly controlled by the SRA,  owing to EO 18 and reinforced by the Sugar Industry Act of 2015.

Aside from this, SRA is enforcing various regulations on the domestic sugar industry such as restrictions on the inter-island shipping of sugar and mandatory sharing arrangement between sugar mills and sugarcane planters.

“The result is crystal clear. While the shielded high domestic price of sugar has helped support the sugar industry, domestic sugarcane production has not achieved higher productivity, nor has the industry as a whole become more competitive over time,” the bill noted.

The measure showed that SRA, on the other hand, has “increased the cost of sugar for consumers and for food and beverage manufacturers, in turn undermining the competitiveness of the latter.”

“SRA has not offered any solution. In fact, it has remained to be – and will continue to be – the problem,” it added.

The bill underscored that “it would be better to abolish the agency now and transfer its powers, functions and budget to the Department of Agriculture” to which SRA is currently attached.

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