BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Sugar Regulatory Administrator Hermenegildo Serafica yesterday issued a statement defending the move to import 200,000 metric tons of standard and bottler’s grade refined sugar, to augment its stocks and to ensure food security.
This is pursuant to its mandate to establish and maintain such balanced relation between production and requirement of sugar and such marketing conditions as will ensure stabilized prices, Serafica said.
After assessing the damage caused by typhoon “Odette” to sugarcane crops, sugar stocks at warehouses, as well as facilities and equipment of sugar mills and refineries in key sugar milling districts, he said that the SRA recalibrated its pre-final crop estimate of raw sugar production to 2.072 MT, down from the 2.099 MT pre-final crop estimate prior to Odette.
In addition, Serafica added that the Philippine Association of Sugar Refineries also revised its refined sugar production forecast for Crop Year 2021-2022 to 16.748 million LKg, down from the initial production estimate of 17.572 million LKg before Typhoon “Odette.
According to SRA’s projections on sugar supply and demand, this will give the country a very tight sugar stock balance at the end of milling which will not be enough to cover the two to three months demand for refined sugar in between the milling seasons, he also said.
Serafica further said that the SRA monitoring of sugar prices also recorded wholesale prices for both raw and refined sugar have increased to record highs, with retail sugar prices were also up.
As the economy is once again starting to open up, the demand for raw sugar and refined sugar for January this year have also increased when compared to the same month in the three previous years. Hence the need to augment sugar stocks to ensure food security and availability of sugar to cover sugar demand until the next crop year or milling season begins again, he added.
The United Sugar Producers Federation (UNIFED) slammed the importation of sugar at the peak of the milling season, as its president, Manuel Lamata, called for resignation of Serafica.
On the other hand, the National Federation of Sugarcane Planters (NFSP) registered its objection and requested the SRA to reconsider its decision in what the federation deems as “excessive importation” of sugar.
Serafica maintained the importation of 200,00 MT of refined sugar will cover the shortfall on the supply and will leave the country with enough buffer stock to tide over until the start of the next milling season.
During a stakeholder’s consultation conducted by SRA, he claimed that stakeholders posed no objection to an importation program, while they recommended its mechanics, type of sugar to be imported, and arrival dates of shipments, among others.*