Group calls for stricter measures vs sugar cartel

A MULTI-SECTORAL organization of the sugar industry in the country calls on the National Government to implement stricter measures against cartels and traders.

"The presence of cartels and middlemen has long been a problem of the industry as it has a disastrous effect on sugar prices which directly impacts us, sugar producers," Raymond Montinola, convenor of Tatak Kalamay said.

Montinola's pronouncement is in reaction to the statements of Socio-economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia "blaming the cartel system for the high prices of sugar."

Senator Cynthia Villar during her visit to the province Tuesday, revealed that the Sugar Import Permits are given to the traders instead of the food processors who are the biggest sugar consumers.

Such move is subject to the complaints of the food processor that resulted to the moves to liberalize the sugar importation in the country.

Villar also exposed that such move of the SRA may result to cartel.

Pernia said many people were involved in the trading of the staple and must be investigated.

“I think there’s too many handlers, too many middleman involved in the process,” he said.

Pressed to comment on the Senate’s request to defer the liberalization of the sugar industry, Pernia agreed that the government need not to fully deregulate it.

“Well, we’ll probably do it slowly. We’ll try other steps first. If they succeed, then there may be no need for full-scale liberalization,” he said.

Last week, senators asked President Rodrigo Duterte, through Resolution 213, “not to pursue the planned liberalization,” warning that it would negatively affect sugar farmers and industry workers in 20 provinces.

Montinola also it "is an issue of enforcement and we join the call for stricter measures to control such and serious prosecution of those caught."

Winnie Sancho, convenor of Save the Sugar Industry Movement, said that "Probably Sec. Pernia is right, it is the sugar traders and cartels that were responsible for the increase of domestic or table sugar in the groceries and supermarkets."

"The small farmers and producers has nothing to do and does not profit from it. While sugar liberalization is put on hold, we should be vigilant," he pointed out.

Sancho said "It is not a time to rejoice because this is only temporary for now."


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