New SRA chief to prioritize stable sugar prices, supply
Following the appointment of its new leader, the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) is expected to prioritize and address various matters concerning the sugar industry which includes stabilizing retail prices and domestic supply amid the imminent El Niño threat.
President Marcos has appointed Pablo Luis Azcona as the acting administrator and chief executive officer of the SRA, Malacañang announced on Friday.
The Presidential Communications Office said Azcona, a former SRA board member, was appointed on April 20, 2023.
Azcona’s appointment came almost a month after the resignation of SRA administrator David John Thaddeus Alba due to his “worsening health.”
The first item that the agency intends to address is setting the suggested retail price (SRP) of retail sugar at P85 per kilogram, according to Azcona.
“We want to maintain an SRP of P85 [per kilogram] in the retail [market]. That’s the first most important thing we will do,” Azcona said in a Zoom interview.
As of Friday, refined sugar in Metro Manila retails from P86 to P110 per kg compared to only P70 per kg a year ago, based on the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) price monitoring.
The last time the DA implemented an SRP for agricultural goods was in November 2020 when the suggested price is P50 per kg for refined sugar and P45 per kg for brown sugar.
Another is exploring ways to extend all the necessary support to the farmers to help them brace for the potential impact of El Niño on sugar production.
Azcona said the agency is reviewing all the projects under the Sugarcane Industry Development Act to overcome the challenges brought about by the phenomenon.
“We’re figuring out how to help the farmers more and last is to keep the DA secretary, Malacañang updated [about] what’s the situation on the ground, how are the retail prices, how are the farm-gate prices,” he said.
But Sen. Risa Hontiveros has continued to question the legality of the controversial SRA order which authorized the importation of 440,000 metric tons of refined sugar.
On Friday, Hontiveros said Malacañang has willingly allowed certain state agencies to become “smugglers” when it authorized the release of imported sugar that entered the country without the mandated documentation.