THE country's sugar industry and its stakeholders received a boost, with the approval of two vital resolutions during the just concluded 28th Visayas Area Business Conference.
The first resolution requests the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to work together, with the help of the Congress, in reclaiming the P2 billion Sugar Industry Development Act (Sida) fund.
The second urges SRA along with the DTI and National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) to rationalize sugar imports.
The two resolutions were adopted by delegates to the business conference, an annual gathering of chambers of commerce in the three Visayas regions.
This year’s conference was held on August 22 to 24, 2019 in Tacloban City, Leyte.
Frank Carbon, chief executive officer of Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI), said they passed the joint resolutions with Negros Oriental Chamber of Commerce (NOCCI) and other business chambers in Panay Island.
In the resolution on the Sida fund, they urged the SRA to take the leadership role in ensuring the development of the sugar industry and optimizing the utilization of the annual fund.
The MBCCI earlier recognized the need for sugar industry stakeholders to strategize on how to utilize the allocation, which has been cut by the government due to underutilization.
The second resolution states that the rationalization of sugar importation should be based on a careful analysis of projected production versus domestic demand and in consultation with the stakeholders.
The business chambers, through the resolution, expressed support to the position of the Confederation of the Sugar Producers Associations (Confed).
"While importation is no longer avoidable due to the industry's inability to meet domestic demand, these imports must be rationalized," the resolution stated.
Also, the rationalization should be based on accurate and fair determination of demand by industrial users, food exporters and domestic consumers of sugar, it added.
Carbon said that, through the resolutions, the business chambers in the Visayas now have a strong voice on the major concerns confronting the sugar industry and its stakeholders.
The resolutions will be endorsed for approval during the Philippine Business Conference in Metro Manila in October this year.
"The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) national officials showed indications that together with the sugar bloc, they will work it out with concerned department secretaries and even with leaders of both Houses of the Congress," he added.
Earlier, MBCCI recognized the huge role of the sugar industry in the province's agriculture sector as well as in the economy through creation of employment.
Its chief executive officer said most of our PCCI's national officers are either industrial users or food processors consuming tons of sugar.
"To some extent they have stake at the local sugar industry thus, we have to develop good rapport with them," he added.