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PIA Press Release

PGMA issues EO 857 for duty-free sugar imports

Tacloban City (February 4) -- In order to stabilize rising prices of sugar, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has issued Executive Order 857, scrapping tariffs on sugar imports until the end of 2010.

Under EO 857, President Arroyo said private importers and the National Food Authority won't have to pay the 38 percent duty on imported sugar or will enjoy "tax expenditure subsidy."

"The private sector and the NFA shall import sugar using the tax expenditure subsidy scheme of the NFA," stated the order which the President signed last January 29 but was only released on February 3.

The executive order tasks the NFA and the Agriculture Department to facilitate the scheme. It also asks the Trade, Budget and Justice departments, as well as the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel, to fully support the EO's enforcement.

The NFA, through its respective boards or council, will use its corporate funds, manpower and other facilities, government guaranteed credit lines and supplemental support, as it may deem necessary. The expenses incurred as a result of the executive fiat will be treated as regular operating expenses of the NFA.

Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) chief Rafael L. Coscolluela earlier said private entities would be invited to participate in a bidding to obtain import rights as soon as Malacaņang issues an executive order.

After obtaining the rights to import, private importers will look for suppliers on their own, he added. The guidelines also set a cap on industrial users so that everyone will be able to participate.

The executive order asks the Agriculture and Trade departments to determine the "reasonable volume" of sugar that should be imported.

SRA chief Rafael L. Coscolluela said the government had again pushed back the timing of sugar imports to the end of the milling season in response to sugar stakeholders' appeal.

He said the President met with sugar farmers and planters in Bacolod last February 3 and decided, in the absence of Agriculture Secretary Yap, to move the imports to May.

The imports are expected to bring down sugar price to P48 from its present retail price of P52 per kilo. (PIA 8) [top]

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