Ejercito urges caution in sugar industry liberalization
MANILA, Philippines — Senator JV Ejercito on Friday urged the government to be more cautious in allowing sweetened beverage makers to directly import sugar as groups warned this move could adversely affect the people whose livelihood is dependent on the said product.
“I believe that we should take caution in rushing this proposal. Further consultations and dialogues need to take place to address the deluge of complaints from the sugar industry,” Ejercito said in a statement.
“We must first study all possible implications of this proposal and ensure a win-win solution for all stakeholders,” he added. “I personally think that there is no better time for different sectors to work together in strengthening our sugar industry and our agricultural sector at large.”
Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno had called for the government to allow manufacturers to directly import their sugar needs, in line with the Department of Finance’s proposal to increase the beverage tax rate under the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) Law to P12 per liter.
However, the United Sugar Producers Federation and National Federation of Sugarcane Planters Inc. said such a move would affect millions of Filipinos who are dependent on the sugar industry.
Ejercito also noted that the public has yet to see the full implementation of the Sugarcane Industry Development Act and Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act.
“These laws were intended to protect the sugar planters and promote the growth of our local sugar industry,” he said.