‘Large sugar importation a heyday for traders’

Government’s planned importation of 450,000 metric tons of sugar “will not result to the greatest good of the greatest number of people”, Wennie Sancho, Save the Sugar Industry Movement(SAVE-SIM) lead convenor, warned on Sunday, February 12.

“SAVE-SIM cannot remain silent in the midst of this impending economic disaster. We must fight,” Sancho, who is a labor leader, said in a press statement.

“The winners in this sugar import liberalization scheme are the chosen few who were blessed by the powers-that-be, the compradors with connections, and influential intermediaries,” he said.

The importation of the 450,000 metric tons of refined sugar is ill- timed, Sancho said.

It is the stand of SAVE-SIM that the importation should be after the end of the milling season with the full acceptance of the sugar producers as well as other stakeholders in the sugar industry of the need to import, he said.

“Amidst the prevailing economic circumstances with an inflation of 8.7 percent wherein the fertilizer and fuel costs are soaring, sugar importation of such quantity and allocation is prone to a price drop and the sugar planters would not take this issue sitting down, “ he added.

The workers and the sugar farmers would stand up to unite and defend their means of livelihood, Sancho said.

He said there are allegations that some major stakeholders in the sugar industry who are supporting the 450,000 mt sugar importation are also acting on the interests of sugar traders who are profiting much from this lucrative business at the expense of the small farmers and workers in the sugar industry.

“How much is the profit of a sugar trader per bag of sugar? If it is multiplied by thousands of metric tons of imported sugar, traders will be raking in millions of pesos,” he said.

No wonder they can afford to shell out exorbitant amounts to the “facilitators”, he said.

Sugar importation of such volume would be a heyday for sugar traders, let alone the unscrupulous, Sancho said.

He cited a statement of a prominent sugar planter who blamed the greed of some sugar traders for the high prices of sugar in the domestic market, noting that traders are hoarding sugar to make it appear that there is a supply shortage.

“If the same self-serving greed will serve as the motivation of those who are supporting the 450,000 mt sugar importation, then, the sugar industry is in peril,” Sancho added.*

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