Group slams new sugar allocation

KILUSANG Pagbabago-Negros through its spokesman lawyer Archie Baribar questioned the latest sugar order announced by the Sugar Regulatory Administration, allocating 92 percent of sugar production for domestic consumption and eight percent for the US quota.

“It sends the wrong signal to industry stakeholders, particularly the thousands of small farmers,” said Baribar, a former councilor of Bacolod City, in a press statement.

Baribar said the unwanted and unwarranted intervention of the Agriculture Secretary and the authority of the reconstituted Sugar Board, whose members can be appointed only by the President, imperil the legality of the sugar order.

Sugar Order No. 1, Series of Crop Year 2016-17, dated August 31, 2016 was signed by SRA Administrator Ma. Regina Martin, Sugar Board Members Pablito Sandoval and lawyer Jesus Barrera, and Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol.

The term of office of Martin, Sandoval and Barrera expired on July 31, 2016 and no appointments have been issued yet on who will replace them.

With the estimated production of 2.25 million metric tons as stated in the sugar order, the eight percent allocation for the US market amounts to 180,000 metric tons. The US quota of the Philippines is only about 136,000 metric tons.

The group’s statement said that allocating eight percent for the US market will cause an oversupply, thereby depressing further the already low price of “A” sugar. It added that the excess three percent allocated to the US market translates to more than a billion pesos worth of losses to the producers.

“It is not fair to make the producers sacrifice more than they have to,” the statement said. “Allocating five percent is enough. The US will not mind, in case we fall short of our quota due to our own domestic needs.”

“The biggest losers here are the thousands of small farmers who make up about 80 percent of sugar producers and whose only source of income is their sugar production,” Baribar added.

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