Marcos rejects sugar import

(UPDATED) PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has thumbed down a proposal to import 350,000 metric tons (MT) of sugar amid reports of a looming supply shortage, Malacañang announced on Wednesday.

Marcos, who heads the Department of Agriculture (DA), made the decision as the chairman of the Sugar Regulatory Board (SRA), Press Secretary Rose “Beatrix” Cruz-Angeles said.

“The President rejected the proposal to import an additional 300,000 MT of sugar. He is the chairman of the Sugar Regulatory Board and denied this in no uncertain terms,” Cruz-Angeles said in a statement.

In June, the SRA warned of insufficient sugar supply, which caused prices to surge.

In an interview with The Manila Times last week, SRA Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica said Marcos approved the proposed importation of sugar to prevent a shortage in the supply of the sweetener.

Serafica said Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia could be possible source1s of sugar imports.

“This is very urgent. The marching order of the President is we need the supply, so we are trying to get all the needed data. It is a work in progress and the SRA is working double time to finalize the importation of sugar the soonest possible time,” Serafica said.

“This is the first time in history that the retail price of refined sugar hit P100 per kilo as traditionally, the SRP (suggested retail price) is only at P50 per kilo while the raw sugar is at P45 per kilo,” he added.

Serafica said that the 300,000 MT of imported sugar will supply the needs of households, industrial and institutional users.

According to the SRA, the estimated raw sugar production for the crop year 2021-2022 is around 1,982,721.97 MT, which is 160,000 MT lower than the actual raw sugar production of 2,143,018 MT for 2020-2021.

“The carryover domestic raw sugar stock from last crop year is 228,690 metric tons which gives us a total raw sugar supply of 2,211,411 metric tons while [the] projected raw sugar demand is 2,200,379 metric tons,” Serafica said.

Farmers' group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag) welcomed the decision of the President to reject the importation of 300,000 MT of sugar.

In a statement, Sinag Executive Director Jayson Cainglet said the SRA and the DA should realize that the marching order of President Marcos is to support local production.

“Sugar farmers are starting to harvest. It is high time for these agencies to finally support our local producers,” Cainglet said.

“The importation at first instance during the leadership of former secretary William Dar has affected the local agriculture industry. Only import what is needed and upon the explicit approval of the local industry. The SRB should immediately heed the call of the President and the local industry to stop this madness for imports,” he added. Serafica earlier expressed hopes that the importation of sugar would lower prices.

“The P50 SRP for sugar has been there. With the arrival of imported sugar and the supply from the local producers, we hope to be able to bring down the prices again at P50,” he said.

The retail price for refined sugar was pegged at P52 a kilo in June 2022.

Agriculture Undersecretary Kristine Evangelista confirmed that the retail price of refined sugar hit as high as P120 a kilo in the wet markets due to the tight supply.

On the other hand, Serafica said that the Agriculture department has yet to decide on the SRP for refined sugar following the consultative meeting with the stakeholders on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022.

Serafica said that the consultation was attended by Evangelista and various groups led by Sinag President Rosendo So.


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