Senate to hold hearing on sugar concerns in August

By: Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said they will hold a hearing on the plight of the sugar industry, most probably on the first week of August.

“We have already elected the chairman of the Committee on Agriculture, Senator Cynthia Villar, so we will already move forward with our investigation on the plight of the sugar industry,” Zubiri said.

Zubiri, a staunch supporter of the sugar industry, said they will look into the issue of SIDA (Sugar Industry Development Act) and why it was not given sufficient funds for its development projects.

Zubiri said they will invite to the hearing stakeholders of the sugar industry and government agencies like the Department of Agriculture.

The Department of Trade and Industry will also be invited so that they can also help instead of proposing a liberalization policy which he said is under attack.”

Zubiri said that despite the rice tariffication, the price of rice has not gone down.

“We also have to find out what went wrong?” he said.

Zubiri said liberalization is not a solution to the woes of the sugar industry.

One problem the Senate faces is that Malacañang has yet to appoint the replacement of former agriculture secretary Manny Pinol who was appointed to the Mindanao Development Authority.

The Sugar Regulatory Administration will also be invited as “we have to know what they have been doing the last year, what are their proposals to prevent a liberalization of the sugar industry.”

“We have to ask the sugar industry stakeholders what are their plans to stabilize the price of sugar,” he added.

The senator said that while the farm gate price of sugar is very low, the price goes up as it reaches the market.

Kaluluoy sang aton mga farmer-producers” he said.

Zubiri said it is the traders who are making money.

He also asked the traders not to be greedy and help balance the gap between the farmer-producers and the buyers.

“They (traders) have a role to play, indi lang nila pagpatam-an dinalok,” Zubiri said.

He said everybody should help to have a price of sugar that is acceptable to everybody.

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