April 22, 2019
Gilbert Bayoran (The Philippine Star) | https://bit.ly/2DrTNHL
BACOLOD ,Philippines — Two officials of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) suspect wholesalers and retailers are manipulating the retail prices of sugar.
SRA board members Dino Yulo and Roland Beltran said they came up with the conclusion following consultation with their constituencies over the long weekend.
They said consumers have been complaining of the high cost of retail sugar being monitored in public markets and supermarkets. It breached the “artificial” price of P60 per kilo and “there are sectors profiting largely from this at the expense of the industry.”
Yulo said the prices of the commodity are being manipulated by wholesalers and retailers which may be a ploy to continue pushing for the industry’s liberalization.
“Unfortunately, the very agency tasked to monitor and ensure that this should not happen is not doing its job,” Yulo said, referring to the Department of Trade and Industry.
“At the end of the day, who is being screwed here – the producers and the consumers, and I hope DTI will not wait that the price breaches P70 per kilo. In fact, it should not have waited that prices breached the P60 per kilo,” he added.
Yulo maintained the SRA has not been remiss in reminding DTI to do its job and monitor retail prices of sugar.
In the past months, the mill gate prices of sugar have been holding steady at P1,450 to P1,500 per 50-kilo bag.
“Our warehouses are filled to the brim with sugar, thus any hike in sugar prices is artificial and being manipulated,” Beltran said.
“When retail prices of sugar goes beyond P60 per kilo, that should reflect double the existing mill gate price,” he added.
“We have been directing our eyes on the traders but I think we should now set our eyes on the wholesalers and the retailers because if indeed there is a problem in the supply chain, it is definitely not coming from the producers and the millers,” Yulo pointed out.
Yulo particularly called on Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry chairman George Barcelon who earlier renewed his call for sugar import liberalization despite admitting that importation at this point may flood the market if there is abundant supply of domestic sugar.
The SRA maintained there is no reason for the prices of the commodity to shoot up as current stock balance is at an all-time high.
Sugar stock balance is at an all-time high of over 1.1 million metric tons, 44 percent higher than last year’s level.
The SRA has already revised its projection for the year to 2.079 million metric tons from 2.225 million MT.
The Philippines has allocated bulk of its target production for the crop year to the domestic market with expected improvements in total output.
Ninety-five percent of the sugar production will be for the domestic market while the remaining five percent will be for the US market.