Kadiwa stores to sell 10,000 MT seized sugar
MANILA, Philippines — The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) is looking into making smuggled sugar seized by the government available in supermarkets while also finalizing the details for the sale of 4,000 metric tons (MT) of impounded sugar in Kadiwa stores this month.
“This started out when big supermarket chains signified they [wanted] to volunteer a space,” SRA acting Administrator Pablo Luis Azcona said at the Laging Handa public briefing on Wednesday.
“There are supermarkets and grocery chains that volunteered to give Kadiwa a small space so we can sell sugar and other commodities at Kadiwa prices,” he added.
Should the proposal push through, the confiscated sugar would be sold at P70 per kilogram, the same price as those sold in Kadiwa stores. The SRA would also have to draft strict guidelines to monitor the sale of the commodity in supermarkets and prevent overpricing.
As of Wednesday, refined sugar was selling in Metro Manila markets from P86 to P110 per kilogram compared to P70 per kilogram a year ago, based on the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) price monitoring.
Azcona said that the SRA was finalizing the details for the sale of a portion of the seized smuggled sugar in Kadiwa stores before the end of May. Also being discussed were logistical details, including repacking and distribution to retail markets.
The government has so far approved the release of 4,000 MT of impounded sugar for sale to the public.
“We still have almost 6,000 MT [of confiscated sugar] left. Hopefully, we can release these once [it is] proven they are safe [for human consumption and approved] for donation and sale to Kadiwa,” Azcona added.
Opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros, however, criticized the government-sanctioned sale of sugar that was part of the shipment imported from Thailand, saying it has allowed unscrupulous traders to rake in profits of up to P60 a kilo.
In a statement, she likened the sale to “robbery against poor Filipino consumers.”
“It’s no longer just about making [an] easy profit but a brazen act of robbery against consumers, who are made to bear the burden of the high price of sugar that was obtained through corruption and mismanagement,” Hontiveros said.
Earlier, former SRA chief Rafael Coscolluela asked the Department of Trade and Industry to investigate why refined sugar was selling in stores for P136 a kilo even after 170,000 MT of the seized imported sugar had already been released in the local market.
“The latest supply of imported sugar would have brought down domestic prices from P86 to P90 a kilo,” Hontiveros said. “And since 170,000 metric tons of imported sugar [have] been released to the local market by All Asian Countertrade, Sucden Philippines and Edison Lee Marketing, they could have easily pegged the price of sugar at P70 a kilo without suffering any loss in profits,” she added.
In March, she questioned how the three sugar import firms had been chosen to receive sugar allocations despite the lack of sugar orders.
Hontiveros blamed the sugar cartel for controlling sugar prices, which, she said, was abetted by Malacañang, the DA and the SRA.
“Why the P40 to P60 profit? This is the result of the SRA allowing three importers to corner the supply of sugar in the country,” she said.