The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) will conduct a series of stakeholders meeting this month to discuss the proposed reforms regarding its board composition and powers.
In a memorandum circular, SRA Administrator David John Thaddeus P. Alba announced the conduct of stakeholders’ consultation on the proposed amendment of Executive Order No. 18 Series of 1986, the legal instrument that created the SRA.
Alba explained that the Office of the Deputy Executive Secretary for General Administration under the Office of the President referred to the SRA the comments and recommendations of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee regarding the proposed amendment of the SRA charter.
The recommendations made by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Report No. 3 included “incorporating transparency and accountability” provisions in the process of issuing import permits and other critical issuances, including the SRA’s audit processes, procedures and public consultations.
The proposal also included expanding the membership of the SRA Board from two to eight members with additional members coming from the following sectors: industrial and household consumers, sugar industry workers, sugar transportation sector workers, other relevant stakeholders.
Under the proposal, the Agriculture Secretary shall continue to act as the ex-officio Chairman of the SRA board. The SRA is an attached government-owned and -controlled-corporation of the DA.
The Senate Blue Ribbon committee also recommended “prohibiting the SRA board from delegating its authority to reclassify sugar,” according to the MC.
“Considering that these proposed amendments and policy recommendations will directly affect your interests as stakeholders of the sugarcane industry, Zoom consultation meetings will be conducted within the month of November upon complete submission of your position papers,” Alba said in MC 4 Series of 2022.
Stakeholders are given a deadline of until November 10 to submit their comments and position papers regarding the proposed amendments to the SRA charter.
At present, the SRA board is comprised of four people: the Agriculture Secretary, the SRA administrator, a representative from the sugarcane planters sector and another representative from sugar millers.
The SRA board serves as the policy-making body of the SRA from local production guidance to sugar importation programs, among others.
The recommendations of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee were a result of its series of hearings on the “infamous” sugar importation fiasco that involved high-ranking government officials, including then Executive Secretary Victor Rodriguez. (Related story: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2022/09/07/ex-sra-chiefs-600k-mt-sugar-import-float-stirs-senate-hearing/)
In September, the blue ribbon panel recommended the filing of criminal and administrative charges against four officials, led by Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian. (Related story: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2022/09/09/blue-ribbon-wants-4-execs-prosecuted-in-sugar-order-mess/)
The fiasco eventually led to an overhaul of the SRA board, with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. appointing new officials to the body. Marcos serves as the chairman of the SRA board in his concurrent capacity as the agriculture secretary.