Delay in importing sugar last year caused prices to rise: SRA member
Delay in importing refined sugar last year caused an increase in prices, a Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) member said Sunday.
“What happened last year was that the importation (of refined sugar) was delayed. That’s why the price shot up, which caused the unexplainable rise in prices,” Pablo Luis Azcona, planters' representative in the SRA , said on dzBB.Azcona said 58,000 metric tons (MT) of imported sugar have arrived in the country and more will arrive next month as reserve stocks.
“Well, the total volume of sugar that we will import is 440,000 MT. Based on the schedule of the SRA, the majority of the sugar, which is around 240,000 that is declared as purely buffer stock will arrive in April,” he said.
None of the imported sugar that arrived has been reclassified as domestic, Azcona said.
He said the price of refined sugar may decrease in Manila in around two weeks.
“I think sometime on February 15, that was when the farmgate price of sugar decreased. The price of raw sugar went down because our basis is the farmgate price which decreased from P75 to P60. So we are hovering at P60 because the farmers are requesting that the price doesn’t go below P60,” Azcona said.
“So when this happened, just like what the good Agriculture Undersecretary (Domingo)Panganiban said, it will take 12 to 14 days for the decrease in sugar prices here in Negros Occidental to be felt in Manila,” he added.
He said prices of sugar may start to slowly decrease starting this month.
“That’s why we are calculating since the decrease in prices started in late February, this March, the price will gradually do down in the markets and the stock of expensive sugar being managed by sellers will be consumed,” Azcona said.
He said since prices of refined sugar in Negros Occidental range from P76 to P80, retail prices in Manila could range from P85 to P90.
Based on the Department of Agriculture’s price watch, refined sugar is sold from P86 to P110.
“The government is thinking if the market doesn’t react, let’s say the farmgate price already decreased and the retailers don’t lower their prices, that’s the time that we will release the imported sugar,” Azcona said over dzBB.
Azcona said the buffer stock could last for up to two months.
“If our calculation is correct and our supply is enough, supposedly, we will start the next milling season, which is September 1, with a buffer stock of 200,000 to 240,000 MT which will last up to two months,” he said.
On the other hand, the supply of local sugar last will only last until July.
Azcona said the farmers are still harvesting sugar.
“Our harvest is still ongoing. We feel from a planter’s point of view that because in February it was supposed to be summer but it’s still raining, the milling slowed down a little. Hopefully, it will be finished in the middle or by the end of April,” Azcona said.
In a separate interview on dzBB, Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) chairperson Rosendo So claimed someone was controlling sugar prices.
“That should only be around P70 because the import price is low. We hope that this would be fixed so that the price wouldn’t be that high,” So said.
“Last year, a large volume of sugar entered the country but the prices still did not go down. Someone is controlling the price of sugar. So the sugar should be looked at closely,” he added.
The SRA on February 15 released Sugar Order (SO) No. 6 which allows the importation of 440,000 MT of sugar this year for the “stable, sufficient and balanced production of sugar, for local consumption, exportation, and strategic reserves”.
Panganiban, Azcona, miller’s representative Ma. Mitzi Mangwag and acting SRA Administrator David John Alba are signatories of SO 6. Jaspearl Tan/DMS