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SRA holds 150K MT sugar to arrest drop in prices

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• GILBERT P. BAYORAN

The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) halted the release of 150,000 metric tons (MT) of imported sugar to stop speculation that reserved sugar will be released to the market and arrest the drop in sugar prices.

The SRA, through its approved resolution no. 2023-159 dated September 26, ordered the lifting of the deadline set for importers under SO No. 7 to reclassify, distribute, and dispose of imported refined sugar “until further notice.”

The Sugar Order No. 7 authorized the importation of 150,000 MT of refined sugar which should arrive not later than September 15, 2023 and shall be classified as “Reserved.”

Under the said order, importers were given until October 15, 2023 to distribute their stocks.

In order to maintain a reasonable volume of sugar available for domestic use, protect the interest of the farmers and millers, and sustain a reasonable farmgate price of raw sugar of about P3,000 per bag, the Sugar Board said it is deemed necessary to hold in abeyance all applications of conversation and maintain the classification of all imported sugar as “Reserved”

Despite the fact that the average retail price of sugar remains the same, the average farmgate price of raw sugar, which hovered between P2,500 to P2,750 per bag during the  first two weeks of crop year 2023-2024 continues to go down, allegedly due to oversupply, to the detriment of sugar farmers.

SRA Administrator Pablo Luis Azcona blamed the significant drop in farmgate prices on speculation that reserved sugar will be released.

The SRA noted that pursuant to Executive Order No. 18, dated May 28, 1986, it has the power to establish and maintain a balanced relationship between sugar production and supply, and to maintain such marketing conditions as will ensure stabilized prices at levels reasonably profitable to the producers and fair to consumers.

Moreover, Section 8 of Republic Act No. 10659 or the Sugarcane Industry Development Act (SIDA) of 2015 affirms the mandate of the SRA to regulate the supply of sugar in the country, in addition to its powers and functions under Executive Order No. 18, Series of 1986, and establish a supply chain monitoring system.

Azcona also talked of reverting the SIDA fund to P2 billion, after the P1 billion was almost fully utilized this year.*

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