MEMBERS of Ethanol Producers Association of the Philippines (Epap) urged the Department of Energy (DOE) to finally resolve their pending request on restructuring of tariffs and import duties on the importation of ethanol.

Epap Director Tetchi Cruz-Capellan said: “The demand projection released by National Biofuels Board (NBB) officially puts a cap on the volume of ethanol imports. By using local production figures as basis for the forecast, market risks for domestic ethanol are reduced.”

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For this year, the country is projected to import 150 million liters of ethanol.

But Epap reminds government that tariff and duties are the only policy instrument that effectively regulates imports. They are predictable, stable, and transparent market signals that entice domestic producers and attract investors.

Capellan said: “Our request to review import duties were submitted to DOE six months ago. We believe there is already adequate information on ethanol production and enough time to finally decide on the matter.”

Executive Order 449 was signed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2006 to reduce import tariff on ethanol from 10 percent to one percent.

The order was designed to jumpstart the Bio-fuels Program by making available to motorists ethanol-blended gasoline at the pumps.

With no drop of ethanol being produced in the country then, the law allowed importation of ethanol at practically zero-tariff.

Capellan explained: “EO 449 has become irrelevant. The country produces 50 million liters at present. The continued flow of ethanol imports affects the producers’ bottomline and the private sector is increasingly getting frustrated over the delay in the tariff adjustments which the NBB already approved months ago."

Epap believes the slow pace undermines the present operations of ethanol plants and erodes the investment climate that legislators carefully created in support of climate change mitigation and green jobs creation.

In the Copenhagen summit, experts’ reported the 40 percent increase of global greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels compared to the 1990 levels.

In the Philippines, Capellan noted: “We are already witnessing the implications of the rapid rise in greenhouse emissions with typhoons Milenyo, Peping and Ondoy ravaging lives and properties to both rural and city dwellers."

"This summer, Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services (Pagasa) announced the coming of El Nino where severe droughts are expected to hit our farms and consequently our food supply,” he added.

”We no longer have the luxury of time. We urge government to restructure the tariff on imported fuel alcohol so we can attract private capital, build more ethanol plants to reduce carbon emissions, and mitigate the dangers of global warming,” said Epap. (MSN/Sunnex)