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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Bacolod: Lacson hopes SRA addresses sugar industry woes

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Bacolod City – With the appointment of new officials at the Sugar Regulatory Administration, Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson is hoping that the SRA can now tackle the issues confronting the sugar industry.

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All three appointments of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to the SRA are Negrenses, including David John Thaddeus Alba as the acting administrator, with Pablo Luis Azcona and Ma. Mitzi Mangwag as representatives of planters and millers in the Sugar Board, respectively.

This is what we had been hoping for, a Negrense to head the SRA, Lacson said.

Now that they are on board, they can tackle the issues in the sugar industry, he added.

In a joint statement, the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters (NFSP), Confederation of Sugarcane Producers (Confed) and Panay Federation of Sugarcane Farmers (Panay FED) also welcomed the new SRA officers, and “wish them well.”

“We hope they maintain the consultative nature of decision-making at SRA. Moreover, we hope they will closely monitor the sugar supply and demand situation, and will make the necessary decisions, including the possibility of additional importation, to ensure stable sugar supply and fair sugar prices for both consumers and producers,” they said.

The three sugar planters’ federations, representing 57.48 percent of sugar production in the country, came to the rescue of replaced Sugar Board member Aurelio Gerardo “Bodie” Valderrama Jr., stressing that he acted in good faith, in signing the Sugar Order Number 4, that called for the importation of 300,000 MT of sugar.

In the same joint statement, they said that Valderrama based his decision on historical and official data of the Sugar Regulatory Administration, after proper consultations with stakeholders, and by following long established process of the SRA.

They also reiterated their confidence and integrity of Valderrama as planters’ representative to SRA board, as they also thanked him for his forthright and selfless brief service and stint to the Sugar Board.

The SRA passed SO4, that allows the importation of 300,000 metric tons of sugar, to address the country’s looming sugar shortage from August to October, when sugar mills are either not yet operational or have just started milling. During this period, they said domestic sugar supply relies on stock balances from the previous crop year and from early sugar production, which is not sufficient to cover the average monthly demand.

The shortage was keenly felt by consumers at grocery stores and supermarkets, where retail prices of refined sugar reached an unprecedented ₱ 100 per kilo because of the supply shortage. Even industrial users, like soft drink manufacturers, and institutional users like bakeries and pastry manufacturers, have been complaining of the lack of sugar supply.

Thus, SRA issued Sugar Order No. 4, but it was invalidated by Pres. Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. However, the President later announced he was amenable to the importation of 150,000MT of sugar.

They lauded the decision to import 150,000MT of sugar as a step in the right direction, as well as his appointment of a new SRA Administrator and two Board Members so that SRA can resume its normal functions, the sugar leaders added. (Gilbert Bayoran via The Visayan Daily Star (TVDS), photo courtesy of TVDS)

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