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Importation of 440,000 MT of sugar awaiting Marcos’ go-signal —SRA Board exec

The Sugar Regulatory Administration’s (SRA) plan to import 440,000 metric tons (MT) of sugar is awaiting the go-signal of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who also sits as chairman of the SRA Board in his capacity as Secretary of Agriculture.

“Yesterday, we all signed the sugar order and that will be sent to Malacañang for final approval,” SRA Board member Pablo Azcona said in a Tuesday interview.

“The import order was divided into three tranches — 100,000 [MT], 100,000 [MT], and buffer stock of 240,000 [MT],” Azcona added.

Members of the SRA Board, the governing body of the SRA, includes Azcona as representative of sugar planters, Board member Ma. Mitzi Mangwag as representative of sugar millers, and SRA Administrator David John Thaddeus Alba as vice-chairperson.

Azcona said that the President, as concurrent DA chief, is represented on the Board by Senior Agriculture Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban.

“For upcoming orders, we respectfully send it to the President so that he is very well informed. Before we release it, it is always nice to have his input,” said Azcona.

“Go-signal siguro ‘yun because I don’t know if he will sign in personally eh,” he added.

As to the arrival of the 440,000 MT of imported sugar, the SRA Board official said that the first 100,000 MT was scheduled to arrive “ASAP.”

“[B]ut all of the three arrivals po, they are all arriving as reserve,” Azcona said.

As to the reason for the importation, the SRA Board official said the agency is expecting that local demand for sugar will exceed the projected production this year.

“For this year, we are expecting a projected production of 1.831 million [MT]… but our demand is a lot more. We feel that the 440,000 [MT] is just right to cover this year’s lack of sugar,” Azcona said.

“This will cover from now until we begin milling next year,” he said.

The importation is also meant to temper prices rising from supply-demand shocks.

“The initial pressure is to bring down the retail price. We were expecting the retail price to go down substantially in the last import and the start of the new milling,” Azcona said, noting that the target is to bring down the retail price of sugar to P85 per kilo.

Data from the DA’s price monitoring as of February 14 showed the price of refined sugar in Metro Manila markets ranging from P87 to P110 per kilo.

“The lowering of retail prices depends on supply. We asked the opinion of wholesalers and retailers, and they are all basing their pricing on their purchase of raw sugar from farmers natin. Any importation po, sugar will come in at a lower price, the cheaper imported sugar will average out the more expensive local sugar. At the end we will come up with a better retail price,” Azcona explained. — DVM, GMA Integrated News