Press Release
January 31, 2010

Pia urges gov't: Support local sugar industry

At the same time, Senator Pia S. Cayetano expressed concern over the Arroyo government's plan to flood the market with 150,000 metric tons of imported sugar, noting that while this will help stabilize supply and prices in the short-term, the move could also have long-term consequences on the domestic sugar industry.

"The government should look deeper into the problems of our sugar planters and millers, particularly how to help them reduce cost of production that has led to soaring sugar prices," said Cayetano, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice.

Cayetano recently visited several cities and municipalities in the province of Negros Occidental, considered as the country's sugar capital, where she had an opportunity to hear the sentiments of local government officials on the issue.

She added that while importation and the imposition of a suggested retail price (SRP) by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for sugar would help bring relief to consumers, the government must also consider how these strategies could hurt local millers and planters who have been reeling from the high cost of inputs, including imported fertilizers and pesticides.

"Importation and imposing SRP would surely lead to short-term gains, but these still do not address the basic question why local sugar prices have skyrocketed in the last two months," she stressed.

She likewise urged the government to seriously run after hoarders and raid warehouses suspected of keeping sugar supply, ostensibly to take advantage of increasing demand for sugar.

"There should always be foresight in our programs for agriculture. Government should constantly look at long-term strategies to support the local sugar sector and prepare it for emergency situations like this, as well as tightening competition from other sugar-producing ASEAN countries."

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