MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) should thumb down the proposed liberalization of sugar importation, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri urged Wednesday.
During the Senate budget hearing on DA and its attached agencies, Zubiri appealed to Agriculture chief Secretary William Dar to reveal his position on the looming tariffs on imported sugar.
“What is deafening is the position of the DA and the SRA on sugar import liberalization. We need a strong voice. We do not want to happen what had happened to rice,” Zubiri said.
The Department of Finance (DOF) earlier formally proposed import liberalization for sugar to improve the competitiveness of the industry.
Zubiri said the DA alongside SRA should say no to the said proposal and instead commit to making policies that will support the industry.
“That’s what I’m here for. To appeal to the Department of Agriculture to come out strongly togeher with the SRA and say ‘No, we do not need to liberalize importation. We have enough for the mean time. And if we don’t have enough, we will come up with a policy that will support the local industry,’” Zubiri said.
Dar, meanwhile, said he has already instructed the SRA to come up with a position paper on the proposed liberalization to help the DA’s board in its deliberation.
“In the area of liberalization, we asked the management of SRA to come up with a position paper to outline exactly what are the pros and cons. We asked the management to put up a pros and cons position paper so that the board can deliberate on this,” Dar said. /je
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