Negros Occ. prov’l gov’t, biz group back sugar industry

A “sakada” worker is seen loading sugarcane harvests into a truck in Negros Occidental. Vice Gov. Jeffrey Ferrer says 85 percent of sugar farmers in the province will be adversely affected by the proposed liberalization of the sugar industry. PHOTO BY PIERRE-EMMANUEL MICHEL
A “sakada” worker is seen loading sugarcane harvests into a truck in Negros Occidental. Vice Gov. Jeffrey Ferrer says 85 percent of sugar farmers in the province will be adversely affected by the proposed liberalization of the sugar industry. PHOTO BY PIERRE-EMMANUEL MICHEL

BACOLOD City – The Provincial government officials and businessmen of Negros Occidental showed their support to the sugar industry amid the opposition of stakeholders to liberalize sugar importation.

Vice Gov. Jeffrey Ferrer said the Provincial Board during their regular session passed a resolution on Tuesday, appealing to President Rodrigo Duterte not to allow the sugar import liberalization.

“The voice of the provincial officials should also be heard that’s why we are appealing to the President,” Ferrer added. 

He said that Negros Occidental, which produces 55 percent of the country’s sugar output, would be adversely affected if the liberalization of sugar imports will push through. 

Previously, the Provincial Board under the former vice governor and now Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson, approved a resolution opposing the proposal to liberalize the sugar industry.

The resolution said the proposal would spell the demise of the local sugar industry, which is the lifeblood of Negros Occidental, adding that the move would open the floodgate to the unregulated entry of sugar being dumped by Southeast Asian neighbors with surplus production.

“We all know that sugar is still the biggest industry in the province. About 85 percent of our sugarcane farmers are agrarian reform beneficiaries. The effects of sugar import liberalization will drastically affect them,” Lacson said on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI) was optimistic that their resolutions supporting the sugar industry will be approved during the 45th Philippine Business Conference in Manila.

Frank Carbon, chief executive officer of MBCCI, said the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry realized that the P90-billion annual contribution of the sugar industry to the country’s economy should not be overlooked. 

“I believe our two resolutions will be carried by the conference and presented to President Rodrigo Duterte,” Carbon added.

Last August, the MBCCI and other business chambers in Regions 6, 7 and 8 passed two resolutions supporting the sugar industry during the 28th Visayas Area Business Conference in Leyte.

The first resolution requested the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to work together in reclaiming the P2-billion Sugar Industry Development Act fund.

The other resolution urged the SRA along with the DTI and National Economic and Development Authority to rationalize sugar imports.  

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 resolution said.(With a report from PNA/PN)

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