Marcos rejects importing 300,000 MT of sugar, Palace says as prices hit P100 a kilo

Job Manahan and Warren de Guzman, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 10 2022 08:11 PM

MANILA — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr has rejected a proposal to import 300,000 metric tons of sugar, Malacañang said on Wednesday. 

"He is the chairman of the Sugar Regulatory Board and denied this in no uncertain terms," Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said in a statement.
 
Earlier this month, the Sugar Regulatory Administration said the President had authorized the importation of sugar as the price of the commodity hit P100 per kilo in wet markets.

The SRA’s Sugar Order No. 4, even showed Marcos’ signature authorizing the importation of not more than 300,000 metric tons of sugar to "address the current sugar situation and its increasing prices." 

Marcos rejects importing 300,000 MT of sugar 1
Marcos rejects importing 300,000 MT of sugar 2
Marcos rejects importing 300,000 MT of sugar 3
Marcos rejects importing 300,000 MT of sugar 4
Marcos rejects importing 300,000 MT of sugar 5

SO4 Second Sugar Import Program for CY 2021 2022

SO4 Second Sugar Import Program for CY 2021 2022

SO4 Second Sugar Import Program for CY 2021 2022

SO4 Second Sugar Import Program for CY 2021 2022

SO4 Second Sugar Import Program for CY 2021 2022

But Cruz-Angeles denied it was Marcos' signature.

This comes as the price of refined sugar reached over P100 per kilo in some supermarkets, while washed sugar costs around P60/kg to P70/kg amid supply constraints.

Marcos, who also sits as Agriculture Secretary, had promised to pursue “food sovereignty” during his presidential campaign. He said he would prioritize local food production over importation. 

Farmers group Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) meanwhile acknowledged that local production has failed to keep up with demand. 

But SINAG chairman Rosendo So also said the government should first meet with farmers before deciding on how much sugar to source overseas.

“I think sugar producers have said some farmers are starting to harvest and mill. Maybe the SRA should have another meeting with sugar millers and ask how much volume can be produced and only import the shortfall.”

He said the importation plan must be limited to ensure local farmers are not discouraged from continuing their trade. 

So added that sugar shortage is also a global problem because of the shortage of fertilizers. 

"Producing countries like Thailand, Vietnam, they also import urea, even China, kulang ang urea nila (they don’t have enough urea),” So said.

“So yung pagtaas ng presyo globally, hindi lang din sa ating bansa.”

(So the price increases are global, not just in our country.)

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry meanwhile appealed to Marcos to allow sugar importation. 

“While we recognize the need to protect our sugar producers and millers, we need to strike a balance and consider expanding our import requirement before the situation worsens, which could lead to higher inflation,” the PCCI said in a statement. 

The business group said that aside from being a consumer item, sugar is also used in food manufacturing. It said local production has not kept up with demand. 

“The raw sugar output on August 31, which is the crop ending year, is estimated at 1.8 million tonnes. This is below the previous estimated 1.98 million tonnes, compared with the average annual demand of 2.03 million tonnes in the past three years,” the group said. 

In a radio interview, Agriculture Undersecretary Kristine Evangelista said the country needs some 300,000 MT of sugar to address the sugar shortage. 

Evangelista said the country would need to import that amount of sugar as well as boost production.

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