Press Release
April 24, 2013

Cayetano raises red flag on GATT deadline
Government Must Help Sugar Industry Prepare

Senator Alan Cayetano raised the red flag on the sugar industry after his Listening Tour in Tanjay City, Negros Oriental last Sunday.

"We only have two years to make the sugar industry so competitive that it will not be affected by the removal of tariff on sugar," Cayetano said in a statement. The lifting of tariffs on sugar based on the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) will be implemented by 2015.

"We need to insure that in spite of the influx of imported sugar, our farmers will be able to hold on to their main source of livelihood. Now, more than ever, the government needs to strengthen the capacity of the local sugar industry to stand up to competition," he said.

Cayetano cited Thailand's "One Town, One Product" project as an example of how the government can offer support not only the sugar industry but also to other local industries as well. "When we enact a program like this, we will be giving better livelihood opportunities to those who rely on local industries. Not only will we be supporting their main industry but also other by-product industries since we will be investing heavily on the product diversity," he said.

Cayetano explained that this is where his proposal of an expansion of the current Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program could come in. The senator has suggested that a second tier CCT program be made available to SMEs, market vendors, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), and farmers allowing them access to capital to encourage economic growth and job generation.

"By giving P500 million to each region as support to its local businesses and cooperatives, we will be making sure that each Filipino family would feel the effects of our country's stellar economic growth," he said.

Cayetano has been on a Listening Tour for the duration of his campaign to hear the concerns of the country's different sectors related to PTK: Presyo, Trabaho, Kita. "I am really learning that it is better for a politician to listen rather than to do all the talking," he said as he recalled his stops to over 20 locations all over the country. "I want people to know that someone will stand up for them in the Senate and fight for their causes and rights."

Cayetano is set to visit other provinces in Central Luzon and Visayas in the following days.

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