Philippines Sets Price Cap On Sugar

The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA)

The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) has set an ideal price cap on sugar, a move seen to stop profiteering in the local market, especially when farmgate prices for the sweetener are low.

SRA is pushing for a suggested retail price (SRP) of P50 per kilogram on refined sugar and P45 per kilogram for brown sugar.

As of December 29, the average retail price for raw sugar stands at P55.45 a kilo, while refined sugar costs P65.08 a kilo on average.

SRA Administrator Hermenegildo R. Serafica said his agency already submitted to the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department of Finance (DOF) the cost of production and transportation of sugar to domestic market as basis for its recommendation to impose SRP on sugar.

Last month, SRA Board Member Emilio Yulo III said the rising retail prices of sugar should be blamed to “profiteering” and that it is the “responsibility” of the DTI to address it.

He then pointed out that while retail price of sugar remains high, the millsite price of the commodity has been on the downtrend in the past weeks.

“We would like an SRP on sugar. We are unfairly blamed for the prices, that producers are making a lot of money, but the truth is we are just surviving,” Yulo said.

Yulo, in an earlier report, also criticized Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez for always talking about importation as if it was the solution to the rising cost of sugar.

There has been a clamor among local food processors and producers to import more sugar as well as for the government to suspend the implementation of the entire second phase of Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law.

TRAIN is the first tax reform the Philippines has adopted in so many years.

Under the one year old tax reform, the excise tax on gasoline went up to P4.35 a liter in 2018. This is supposed to go up by P9 a liter this year and P10 in 2020.

The Confederation of Sugar Producers’ Associations, Inc. (CONFED), the biggest group of sugar producers in the Philippines, pointed out that fuel is the biggest cost component in sugar production from “start to finish.”

The imposition of excise tax for fuel, according to them, has “greatly” increased their production cost.

Meanwhile, Philippine Food Processors and Exporters Organization, Inc. (Philfoodex) President Roberto Amores said before that they should be allowed to directly import as much as 100,000 metric tons (MT) of sugar to “strike a balance” between industries that were affected by the high cost of the commodity.

“We’ve been asking SRA to allow a limited scale of importation of sugar for processing because it is cheaper. We are not asking for too much. We don’t like to compete and displace the sugar industry including the sugar workers. We are one with the sugar workers,” Amores said.

“If we can’t process, we will also be forced to displace our workers,” he added.

PhilFoodex is composed of 12,000 micro, small, medium and large-scale food manufacturers and exporters.

Serafica said that for now, prices of sugar are still “fair for all,” but the agency is also “closely monitoring” the market.

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