Producers seek changes to Sugar Order No. 5

By: Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – The Confederation of Sugar Producers’ Associations (Confed) asked the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) to amend Sugar Order No. 5.

In a manifesto furnished to media outfits here, CONFED said that SO No. 5, which sets importation policies for the current crop year, did not bear the signature of the SRA administrator.

“This is the first such Order in the history of the Sugar Regulatory Administration that does not bear the signature of the Administrator. It speaks volumes about policy disagreements within the Sugar Board and raises questions about its failure to agree on such an important matter as sugar importation,” the manifesto said.

The manifesto also said that SO No. 5, if it were issued in a timely and properly calculated manner as Confed had suggested as early as February 2019, “could have provided the conditions needed to balance the needs of end-users – particularly industrial users – and the interest of sugar producers as mandated by Executive Order No. 18-1986.”

EO No. 18-1986 issued by the late President Corazon Aquino created the SRA.

“Unfortunately, SO No. 5 is neither timely nor judicious. Supply-demand projections should have shown that only an additional 135,000 metric tons (MT) needed to be imported before the end of Crop Year 2018-19 (leaving a two-month buffer stock before start of  milling in September). SO No. 5, thus, comes too late for CY 2018-19 because deliveries won’t be until September and October and then too much for CY 2019-20 because of excessive volume (250,000 MT) coming in and competing against the new crop. Is this a case of correcting a mistake with a bigger one?” the manifesto added.

The current policy mandates the importation of 250,000 MT of refined and bottler’s grade sugar for the 2018-2019 crop year.

Confed national president Ferdinand Marañon said that there is a need for a timely and “judiciously-calibrated” importation program.

Citing their projections, Marañon said only an additional 135,000 MT needed to be imported for the crop year.

He said “excessive importation” will cause domestic prices to drop.

As an alternative, Confed suggested staggered importations based on projected need and domestic production, along with granting import allocations based on need as determined by a supply-demand analysis.