SENATOR Ramon Revilla Jr. on Thursday criticized the government’s swift decision to import sugar from neighboring countries as a measure to control the price of locally-produced sugar.

“The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) made a hasty decision when it allowed the importation of 150,000 metric tones of sugar,” he said, adding that it did not entirely solve the sugar producers’ problems.

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He said the higher price of sugar is only the result of the increase of fertilization and other production costs, which the industry has no control of. Sugar is pegged at P55 to P60 a kilo.

In a dialogue with the senator, sugar producers expressed fear that imported sugar would bring down the industry that supports six million people. They explained that the imported commodity would have a competitive edge because it is tariff-free and the importers’ production costs are cheaper.

Revilla said sugar importers are capable of bringing down the commodity’s price because their government is subsidizing their production costs.

“Is the government aware that for the past several years, our sugar producers suffered prices at production levels? The prices of fuel and fertilizer have soared high. The trade and industry department failed to put a price cap on fertilizer to protect our farmers and sugarcane growers,” Revilla said in a statement.

It was learned that the government recently allowed the importation of sugar.

Revilla, on the other hand, questioned such decision as the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) claimed that we have abundant surplus of the commodity.

The lawmaker criticized the government for failing to address the problem of local producers.

“Our local producers fend for themselves. The sugar industry does not receive any subsidy from the government. They shoulder all the expenses. They do not have the choice but to raise the market price in order to recover the operating cost,” he concluded.

The senator recommended that the government should subsidize the local sugar producers in order to protect them from the consistent rise of fuel and fertilizer prices.

Meanwhile, about 60,000 metric tones of Thai sugar arrived in the country last month. To protect our sugar producers, he suggested that the SRA should set a benchmark which is at a price level of our local commodity.

Caravan

Revilla will arrive in Bacolod Friday for a caravan in southern and northern Negros.

Revilla who is seeking for reelection is expected to arrive in Kabankalan City and will meet with Kabankalan City Mayor Pedro Zayco.

From Kabankalan City, Revilla will make a five-minute stopover at the towns and cities to shake hands with the local residents before proceeding to Bacolod City.

Revilla will meet and lunch with Sagay City Mayor Alfredo Marañon Jr. and other town and city mayors in the province at the Nature's Village Hotel and Restaurant.

From Talisay City, Revilla will proceed to Sagay City to meet with some city officials. His caravan will then proceed to Cadiz City going back to Bacolod City at the Pavilion Hotel. He will also make a 5-minute stop over and do the hand shaking in the towns and cities in northern Negros. Revilla based on surveys is consistent number 1 among the senatoriables for the May 10polls. (George M. De La Cruz & Teresa Ellera Dulla)