Sugar prices seen to fall further
The leader of an agriculture group on Thursday said prices of sugar had slightly declined following government efforts to deter hoarding and smuggling.
Speaking at the televised Laging Handa public briefing, Rosendo So, president of the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag), said his group monitored sugar prices at P84 to P90 per kilo.
So said the price is expected to decline further to P65 to P70 by next month with the start of the local harvest as well as the arrival of 150,000 metric tons of sugar that the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) earlier approved.
The imported sugar costs around P36 per kilo, including tariff with a markup price of P45, So said, adding that the imported sugar, to be divided between industries and consumers, would help stabilize the country’s stocks but would not aggravate prices.
The Sinag chief also suggested that the remaining funds of the SRA intended as subsidies to sugar farmers, millers and small local producers be released soon as these would help them recover production costs.
So also called on the Department of Agriculture to halt planned rice importations in October, the month when the rice harvest is also set to start.
So said that because of reports about rice importation, some millers were not buying bigger volumes of palay, thus endangering the income of farmers.
“The importation of rice in October should be stopped so that at least our local millers will be encouraged to buy more palay from our farmers,” he said.
So said the price of imported rice is already expected to rise in the coming weeks due to increases in the world market prices by as much as $10 per metric ton.
Asked whether local prices would be affected, too, he replied: “It depends on whether millers will buy at high prices. The tendency is that if there will be plenty of imported rice coming in, millers might not want to buy bigger volumes anymore. That will affect the prices our palay.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Thursday pressed her campaign against former Executive Secretary Victor Rodriguez and demanded that the Senate take Rodriguez to account for not submitting documents although the Senate blue ribbon committee had already submitted its report on the SRA.
“He told the blue ribbon committee that he will check, and will get back to us on the confirmation if such meeting indeed transpired. But was he not in the meeting? What smoke and mirror is this?” Hontiveros said.
The minority senator on Wednesday resumed her interpellation of the blue ribbon committee report on its investigation of the sugar fiasco, which was spurred by an Aug. 15 privilege speech by Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri.
After three hearings, the blue ribbon committee recommended the filing of graft and administrative charges against suspended Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian, and former SRA officials Hermenegildo Serafica, Roland Beltran and Aurelio Valderrama Jr.
“An important point that needs to be made here is that despite the request of the blue ribbon committee, (Rodriguez) did not comply. In that instance, he showed he had no respect for the Senate,” she said.
Hontiveros reiterated that Rodriguez, who has since resigned as executive secretary, should still be held accountable for his “evasiveness” to divulge details about the supposed Aug. 4 meeting.
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