Alcohol research center seeks removal of Php 400 per ton levy on molasses

By Juzel L. Danganan

MANILA, Dec. 10 (PNA) — The Center for Alcohol Research and Development Foundation (CARD) is pushing for the removal of an import tax on molasses, charged by the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA), which amounts to Php 400 per ton.

In a press conference Thursday, CARD chairman Gerardo Tee said the tax served its purpose already as the prices of molasses soared from Php 3,000 to Php 10,000 per ton since its inception.

He noted the distillers needs to import molasses, due to a 600,000 tons shortage from a 1.6-million ton requirement per year.

Tee, chief operating officer of Absolut Distillers, Inc., noted each distillery needed 1,500 tons per day.

Molasses could be processed to alcohol and bio-ethanol.

However, the chairman stressed the foundation was open to purchasing sugar cane juice from sugar mills, which is an alternative to molasses.

Tee added they could utilize the juice better than the molasses, which could also produce bagasse that serves as a feed for co-generation power plants. However, the juice still has no set price yet.

He also said the foundation was open to a supply of 50-percent sugar cane juice and 50-percent molasses.

The chairman stressed the distillers are also looking for a win-win scenario, which will be “sustainable” even after the downtrend of gasoline prices.

“We are opening our doors for further talks with the sugar industry,” he added.

Tee bared Absolut Distillers is in talks with Roxas Holdings, Inc. for a potential partnership.

He further warned the higher prices of molasses might reflect in bio-ethanol prices.

Aside from seeking a win-win solution, the foundation is also looking at developing better distilleries to make use of raw materials that could be processed to bagasse and bio-ethanol.

With the development, the chief executive said its Php 350-400 million allocation for a sugar mill and co-generation plant “might be put on hold” until a viable solution is found. (PNA)