Sugar Importation must be open, transparent, fair, Confed says
Posted February 7, 2023
On top of its call for only 350,000 metric tons of sugar importation, the Confederation of Sugar Producers Associations (CONFED) is calling on government to exercise transparency, fairness and accountability in the implementation of the proposed sugar importation program.
“We reiterate our position that the importation program should be implemented in an open, transparent and equitable manner,” CONFED said in its letter addressed to the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) on Tuesday, February 7.
The importation should be allocated on a 50:50 ratio between industrial users and sugar producers, while all interested accredited sugar traders should be qualified to participate in the program, CONFED stressed.
The letter was signed by CONFED President Aurelio Gerardo J. Valderrama Jr., and addressed to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr, concurrently the Agriculture Secretary and head of SRA’s Sugar Board, which formulates the country’s sugar policies.
Last month, the Department of Agriculture and the SRA announced its plan to import 450,000 metric tons ‘two months buffer stock’ of sugar.
In its letter to SRA dated January 27, CONFED recommended the importation of only 350,000 mt of sugar, to arrive in two tranches of 175,000 mt each on July and August, which corresponds to the end of the current milling season and before the opening of the next milling season, so that the importation will not depress millgate prices of sugar.
CONFED reiterated its position in its letter to SRA Tuesday, specifying that the importation volume should be composed of 300,000 mt refined sugar and 50,000 mt raw sugar, to arrive not earlier than July 2023.
It also urged SRA to adopt importation guidelines which are transparent and allows the participation not only of industrial users but also of sugar producers and other interested accredited sugar traders.
Sugar farmers and millers, through their federations, associations or cooperatives which are accredited sugar traders, or through other accredited sugar traders, should be qualified to apply for and import their allocation of 50 percent of the proposed volume, CONFED said in a press statement.
For sugar producers, the importation allocation should be based on their percentage of production in Crop Year 2021-2022. For industrial users, their allocation should be based on their SRA-verified requirements, as determined by their record of excise tax or VAT payments, and subject to voluntary submission of applications and record of actual importation by accredited sugar traders, it added.
To ensure transparency, CONFED further recommended that all applications for importation should be submitted within five days upon the effectivity of the appropriate Sugar Order allowing the importation. All submitted applications should be opened at the end of the five days, and then published and made available to all applicants.
Within ten working days after the deadline of submission, the evaluation of applications should be conducted, and immediately awarded and announced, CONFED said.*