Philippines may ''run out of sugar'' due to TRO vs imports, SRA head says
The Philippines may "run out of sugar" as its supply is now in "critical volume" due to the temporary restraining order on importation, the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) said on Wednesday.
"For the longest time, SRA has done its job in successfully stabilizing prices by ensuring the balance in supply and demand. It is only now that the prices have gone out of hand and there is this situation that we are about to run out of sugar," SRA Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica said on Wednesday.
Serafica said "the manufacturers have been willing to buy sugar at whatever price to ensure that their factories don't run out of sugar."
"Manufacturers who didn't buy raw sugar historically are now buying even raw sugar to have the raw sugar processed as refined sugar for their consumption," he said.
"So now there is also going to be a shortage in raw sugar. The high demand, low supply situation is being felt now with the high prices of sugar," he added.
According to Serafica, the shortage in the supply of sugar in the country is caused by the temporary restraining order issued by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 73 in Sagay City, Negros Occidental on the implementation of Sugar Order No. 3 which was filed by the group of United Sugar Producers Federation (UNIFED) President Manuel Lamata.
"If not for the legal impediments caused by the group of Mr. Lamata, which caused delays in our importation, the imported sugar would have come in by May to June which will ease the pressure on the supply and demand situation," he said.
"Imported sugar coming in will increase the supply of sugar and we will be able to balance out the supply and demand which will arrest the increase in prices. As such sugar prices would not be this high if the sugar importation program was not stalled," he added.
Serafica noted that "if SO 3 had been implemented according to schedule" the demand of the manufacturers would have been addressed early on and "the prices would not be this high and the raw sugar and refined sugar supply would not be at this critical volume."
"Majority of our local production is purchased by the manufacturers. By addressing the need of the manufacturers, we would have alleviated the demand and the retail market would have stable sugar supply and prices," he said.
Serafica said the SRA issued the SO 3 after they have projected on February that the country will have a deficit in its sugar supply largely because of weather disturbances such as Typhoon ''Odette'', excessive rain and overcast skies which has been detrimental to the growth and sugar content of the sugar cane in majority of sugar producing areas.
"When SO 3 was crafted, the estimated domestic production of raw sugar was at 1.982 million metric tons," he said.
"However, sugar productivity continues to drop due to the residual effects of Typhoon Odette, continuous rain and overcast skies dampening the growth and sugar content of sugarcanes, thus production estimate is now lower at 1.8 million metric tons while sugar demand for the past three crop years has been around 2.03 million metric tons," he added.
Serafica said "another issue caused by the delay in the implementation of SO3 is the domino effect in the timely issuance of SRA of succeeding programs that may be deemed necessary as the situation progresses."
"Due to the delays, it is only now that imported sugar is starting to trickle in. It will take some time before the total volume of 200,000 metric tons of imported sugar would have arrived in the country due to logistical concerns," he said.
"In fact, it would take a minimum of 3 weeks for a sugar shipment from Thailand to arrive in the Philippine ports. Of course, the 200,000 metric tons cannot all be in one shipment," he added.
Serafica said the SRA is fast tracking all the requests for clearance to import and reclassification of imported sugar as part of its effort the address the shortage of sugar supply in the country. Robina Asido/DMS