By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos
MANILA – The government is rationalizing the importation schedule for sugar products to match the local production of the commodity, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said on Tuesday.
“Sa (On) sugar, we are beginning to rationalize this buying schedule, the importation schedule, so that we will match the crop here of the local producers of sugar,” Marcos said in a video message sent to Palace reporters.
The move, Marcos said, would help “normalize” the prices of sugar.
“Para hindi naman tayo nagpapasok habang mababa ang presyo ng asukal, so para mag-normalize naman ‘yung presyo (So, we would not import while the price of sugar is low. This would normalize the price),” he said.
Marcos made the remark in the wake of his recent order to establish a two-month buffer stock of sugar.
Marcos said having a buffer stock of sugar for two months will help stabilize the supply and prices of the commodity.
This, as he stressed the importance of building up a sugar inventory to avoid shortage in the future.
“Again [for] sugar, to cut down speculation, we are guaranteeing a buffer stock of two months. So hindi magkaka-shortage, hindi dapat tataas ang presyo,” Marcos said.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) officials, during a sectoral meeting at Malacañan Palace in Manila, reported that the prevailing retail price of sugar from October 2022 to January 2023 was significantly higher compared to the price from October 2021 to January 2022.
They also noted that as of Jan. 8, the raw sugar production is at 877,028 metric tons (MT), higher by 22.41 percent compared to last crop year’s 716,485 MT.
The raw sugar stock balance is at 362,263 MT, 0.92 percent lower than the 365,633 MT of the previous crop year.
During the same period, refined sugar production reached 316,829.15 MT, 34 percent higher than last crop year’s 235,838.45 MT, while domestic use of refined sugar for the same period is at 211,832.90 MT, 17.78 percent lower compared to last CY’s 257,646.75 MT.
The refined sugar stock balance, meanwhile, is 132,384.55 MT, 8.68 percent higher compared to last CY’s 121,813.25 MT.
The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) also projected a negative sugar-ending inventory by July 2023.
The DA and the SRA have recommended the importation of 450,000 MT of sugar following the instruction of Marcos to maintain a two-month sugar buffer stock and bring down retail prices.
To help lower sugar prices, the DA also gave its nod for the sale of 80,000 bags of seized sugar at KADIWA stores at PHP70 per kilo upon approval from concerned agencies, such as the finance department and SRA.
A “sugar council,” composed of sugar planters’ federations, was also formed to discuss policy recommendations to the government for the sugar industry.
The Carbonated Soft Drinks (CSD) industry and major sugar industry stakeholders requested the implementation of a supplemental sugar importation program based on the forecast that the current sugar inventory would only last until the second quarter of this year.
The request was made after the CSD industry claimed that without premium refined domestic sugar to manufacture its products, manufacturers would be forced to impose prolonged shutdowns which would affect the livelihood of employees. (PNA)