Ex-DA chief accuses sugar traders of profiteering

This Aug. 15, 2022 file photo shows sugar packs for sale at a stall inside a public market in Quiapo, Manila. PHOTO BY RYAN BALDEMOR

Former Department of Agriculture (DA) secretary and Federation of Free Farmers president Leonardo Montemayor on Thursday accused sugar traders of profiteering.

“There is likely profiteering. Traders are involved in windfall gains. Traders buy their sugar at very low farmgate prices, but there is a big difference between the buying price for the raw sugar as against the retail price,” Montemayor said.

He said United Sugar Producers Federation (Unifed) President Manuel Lamata share his suspicions.

Lamata said in a statement that traders buy their sugar at P45 per kilo, but the retail price of refined sugar now sells at more than P100 a kilo.

Even if the government allows the importation of refined sugar, its price will remain high because of profiteering, “So I agree that should be carefully addressed,” Montemayor said.

Lamata reiterated his call to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to inspect the traders' sugar mills and warehouses.

“The DTI should inspect all the sugar mills and bodegas of the traders for health reasons, like the presence of cockroaches and rats but the media should be allowed to cover to determine if there are stocks inside these warehouses,” he said.

Lamata said he is convinced that local producers can fill the country's sugar requirements if the harvest is good.

He said he expected local producers to provide more sugar to Metro Manila by mid-September.

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