SRA to reclassify sugar imports to bring down prices
MANILA, Philippines — The government plans to allot 7,750 metric tons (MT) of imported sugar that entered the country for domestic use in a bid to lower the retail prices of sugar, government officials said on Monday.
Agriculture Assistant Secretary Rex Estoperez told the press in an interview the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) was eyeing to reclassify sugar imports “within this week.”
“The objective is to bring down the prices of sugar,” said Estoperez, also the agency’s concurrent chief of staff. “Hopefully, prices will go down.”
SRA board member Pablo Luis Azcona said 58,000 MT of sugar entered the country recently and of these, 7,750 MT were up for reclassification.
“All remaining will be kept as reserves,” said Azcona, who represents planters in the SRA board.
The 58,000 MT of imported sugar were part of the 440,000 MT of refined sugar to be imported under Sugar Order No. 6 authorized by the SRA last month to stabilize retail prices and shore up the country’s buffer stock.
Of the 440,000 MT of imported sugar, 200,000 MT will be for domestic use while 240,000 MT will be kept as two-month buffer stocks.
“Even though inflation has slowed down, we should find ways to lower it further. That is the instruction of the President through [Agriculture Senior Undersecretary Domingo] Panganiban. One of the drivers [of inflation] is sugar so we need to depress its steep prices,” he added.
Earlier, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that inflation eased to 8.6 percent in February from 8.7 percent the previous month, marking a slowdown after rising for five consecutive months.
The PSA noted that food items, particularly vegetables, fish and meat, were the largest contributor to the rising prices last month, along with housing and utilities, particularly electricity, rentals and cooking gas or liquefied petroleum gas as well as transport, particularly fares on public vehicles and diesel.
Estoperez brushed aside those questioning the legality of procuring sugar overseas and instead appealed for cooperation among industry stakeholders to help address inflation.
“It seems that everything we do just to address the problem have no effect. If we act on it, they have issues. If we don’t address the problem, they still have issues. Perhaps, it is best to work together,” said Estoperez.
In Metro Manila markets, refined sugar was being sold from P86 to P110 per kilogram as of Monday from only P65 per kg a year ago, based on the Department of Agriculture’s price monitoring.