Sugar production eyed for local consumption
The Philippines may allocate all the sugar produced for this crop year for domestic use, according to the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA).
The SRA board recommended classifying all sugar for crop year 2022-2023 as “B” sugar or domestic sugar.
In the Philippines, the crop year starts on Sept. 1 and ends on Aug. 31 of the following year.
“There will be no allocation for the US quota,” said acting SRA Administrator David Alba.
The United States has an agreement with the World Trade Organization to import a certain quantity of sugar from sugar-producing countries including the Philippines at lower tariffs.
For its part, the US Department of Agriculture earlier hiked its sugar export quota for the country by more than 2 percent to 145,235 metric tons of sugar for fiscal year 2023 or from Oct. 1, 2022 to Sept. 30, 2023.
“This will of course be subjected to thorough consultation with all industry stakeholders,” added Alba.
Sugar produced locally is classified as follows: “A” for US quota, “B” for the domestic market, “C” for reserve and “D” for the world market.
Alba said the SRA board came up with this recommendation after the meeting recently convened by President Marcos, who “immediately” directed them to craft Sugar Order No. 1 regarding sugar allocation. Since the President is concurrently sitting as the agriculture secretary, he also chairs the SRA board.
Meanwhile, the SRA board is fleshing out the details for the planned importation program which the President approved in principle.
“We also came up with Sugar Order No. 2 which recommends the importation of 150,000 metric tons of refined sugar,” said Alba.
This was the volume approved by the government, as proposed by manufacturers to meet their requirements, to address the shortage in local supply.
“While in principle this has been approved, we still need to draw up the mechanics covering this order after consultations as well,” he added.
Agriculture Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban said the importation was targeted by the last week of October “and that will solve the problem of shortfall until December.”
As of Tuesday, refined sugar in Metro Manila markets is being sold for P100 per kilogram and brown sugar for P70 per kg, based on the Department of Agriculture’s price monitoring, significantly higher than last year’s prevailing price of P50 per kg and P44 per kg recorded the year before that.
The Palace had rejected a proposal to bring in 300,000 MT of imported sugar amid the urgency to plug the shortfall and arrest skyrocketing prices of the sweetener.
The previous SRA board issued Sugar Order No. 4 which authorized the importation of sugar, an issuance tagged as “illegal” since Mr. Marcos did not authorize its promulgation.
The said directive was the subject of separate inquiries being conducted by the Palace and Congress and led to the resignation of government officials such as Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian, SRA administrator Hermenegildo Serafica and SRA board member Roland Beltran.
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