Sugar Regulatory Administrator Ma. Regina Martin yesterday said that, with the Bureau of Internal Revenue's new definition of raw sugar under Revenue Regulation 13-2013, the Philippines is no longer harmonized with the rest of the world's trading community.
She said the SRA has been mandated to regulate sugar, in all its types or kinds. Raw sugar has been technically defined according to its polarimeter, which is less than 99.5, she said.
This definition has been adopted and accepted not just by the Philippines but also by almost all trading countries, she added.
“Our Tariff and Customs Code as well as that of other countries follow this definition. The WTO and the World Customs Organization also define raw sugar as sucrose with less than 99.5 polarimeter," she said.
At an SRA board meeting yesterday, the definition of raw sugar, which has bearing on the BIR issuance on VAT, was discussed.
The board members heard the presentation of the SRA technical staff at their meeting, and decided to provide the technical experts in case such will be needed or requested in legal cases.
Five planters groups - the Rural Planters Association Inc., Northern Negros Planters Association Inc., Confederation of Sugar Producers Associations, National Federation of Sugarcane Planters and the United Sugar Producers Federation of the Philippines, have a pending case before the Cadiz City Regional Trial Court seeking the nullification of the new revenue regulation.
The case was filed against BIR Commissioner Kim Henares, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima and BIR Region XII Director Perfecto Aranas.
Cadiz RTC Judge Renato Muñez has issued a 17-day temporary restraining order extension against the enforcement of Revenue Regulation No. 13-2013 pending an October 21 hearing on the propriety of the issuance of the preliminary injunction on the revenue regulation on raw sugar.
The booking price for sugar yesterday was P1,384 per Lkg, a drop of about P100 from last week's average, SRA data showed.
“The Value Added Tax on raw sugar is causing uncertainty in the sugar industry and is driving sugar prices down,” Enrique Rojas, NFSP president, said.
Manuel Lamata, president of UNIFED, pointed out that while the country's sugar industry is trying to bring down the costs of domestic sugar to survive amid the threat of the entry of highly subsidized cheap imported sugar when tariffs drop to a nominal 5 percent in 2015, the BIR has exacerbated the problem.*CPG