Senator Grace Poe suggested earmarking some P20 from every kilo of imported sugar sold and use the funds to support the sugar industry.

At the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing, Poe took note of the huge disparity between the price of sugar in the world market and domestically.

The veteran legislator said international prices of sugar are at P22 per kilo while the cheapest retail price is P70 per kilo.

“Our consumers would stand to save P28 per kilo.”

“For every 300,000 metric tons we import, we’ll have P3 billion to give to our farmers. Kung 150,000 tons lang, that’s still P1.5 billion extra that we can give to the sugar industry to subsidize them and at the same time our consumers would stand to save P28 per kilo,” the seasoned lawmaker said.

The controversial Sugar No. 4 was looking to allow for the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar this year but an earlier order allowed for only 150,000 metric tons.

During the hearing, the Philippine Food Processors and Exporters Organization Inc. (Philfoodex) said the landed cost of imported sugar in the country is P35 per kilo but the cost of sugar for food manufacturers in Thailand and Vietnam is less than P30 per kilo.

For the industry to be competitive, the Philfoodex official said the industry can still compete for as long as the price of sugar does not exceed P50 per kilo.

“Clearly, the Department of Trade and Industry should start doing computations here. Even if we add P20, that will still be P3 billion for 300,000 metric tons or P1.5 billion and it will still be cheaper for our consumers if we liberalize the industry a little bit ‘pag may shortage,” the lady senator said.

With retail prices of sugar in the country now at P100 per kilo with the P70 per kilo available only in very select outlets, she said bringing down the retail price of sugar to P55 will still give consumers a reprieve.

“Patungan man natin ‘yan para ibigay ang pera as subsidy sa sugar industry, hindi pa rin lugi ang consumers.”

“Sa merkado ba nag-P22 ang asukal? Patungan man natin ‘yan para ibigay ang pera as subsidy sa sugar industry, hindi pa rin lugi ang consumers so bakit hindi natin isipin ang tamang polisiya para mabalanse ‘yan,” Poe asked.

In balancing the interests of consumers and local producers, she said the government must look at the timing of the importation and the harvest season.

“I really think we can support the industry by adding a little bit of tariff and that tariff will not even disadvantage consumers because it will still come out cheaper,” Poe said.

“I support the sugar industry but I should also advocate for our consumers who are clearly the ones getting the short end of the bargain,” she concluded.



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