Manila Bulletin | Published April 17, 2018, 10:00 PM
By Madelaine B. Miraflor
The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) has observed an “unreasonable” spike in sugar prices a few weeks it assured the public that there will be sufficient supply of sugar for this crop year.
SRA Board Member Roland Beltran said that the agency is now “closely monitoring the mill gate prices of raw sugar as well as refined sugar” amid rising prices.
Based on the Visayas Average Bid Prices for the production week-ending April 8, the price of domestic raw sugar, which is classified as “B”, has jumped by 17.82 percent to P1,657.35 per 50-kilo bag from P1,406.67 recorded last year of the same period.
On March 18, the average composite millsite price of raw B sugar also went up to P1,559.60 per 50-kilo bag from P1,498 at the beginning of the month, and P1,386.25 at the beginning of February.
“We are closely monitoring the prices [because] despite our assurance that we have sufficient supply of raw sugar, the domestic market prices are [still] unreasonably moving upward to the detriment of the consuming public,” Beltran said in a text message.
“This is not market driven,” he further said, adding that SRA is monitoring the gate prices on a weekly basis.
Beltran said SRA already has “suspicion” as to what could be causing the price increases but refused to specify it.
He instead said that the agency, “will not hesitate to use our regulatory powers when warranted to correct this seeming anomaly in the movement of prices.”
Beltran, however, noted that SRA’s exercise of regulatory powers means many things except “price control” which SRA don’t have control over.
In March, SRA gave in to the call of stakeholders to scrap the country’s allocation of the local sugar production to world market exports so that bulk of the output can now be sold locally.
This move has required SRA to issue yet again another Sugar Order, implementing such reallocation. This would be applicable to the current crop year, which starts every September and ends in August.
Beltran said that during a special board meeting, the agency has approved Sugar Order 1-B, which increased the allocation of sugar production to local market, or “B” sugar, to 94 percent from 93 percent.
Such adjustment was made as the SRA sees a “slightly” down output for this crop year. To be specific, sugar production for the crop year 2017 to 2018 is seen to go down to 2.27 million metric tons (MT) due to heavy rains experienced in Visayas and Mindanao.