The Department of Agriculture is mulling coming out with a suggested retail price (SRP) for sugar, a DA official said on Monday.
DA Assistant Secretary Kristine Evangelista said this after media noted that the price of sugar has not gone down even though 40,000 metric tons of imported sugar have been approved for conversion for domestic use, and another 36,000 metric tons have been applied for such conversion.
Based on the DA’s latest price monitoring as of March 31, 2023, refined sugar is being sold for P86 to P110 per kilo while the price of washed sugar is from P80 to P95 per kilo. Brown sugar, on the other hand, is priced at P80 to P95 per kilo.
“Kung kinakailangan po na magkaroon tayo ng suggested retail price, we will do that. Pero ang unang titingnan ngayon ay magkano ang bagsak ng asukal sa mga palengke para malaman natin kung magkano ang patong ng ating mga tindera,” Evangelista told media.
(If a suggested retail price is needed, we will do that. But first we are looking at the price suppliers set for vendors at markets so we can see how much sellers add on.)
“But pushing for an SRP will also mean that we have to make sure na merong supplier ang ating mga retailer ng murang asukal (that our retailers have suppliers supplying inexpensive sugar),” Evangelista added.
Evangelista said they will schedule a meeting with the Sugar Regulatory Administration, sugar planters, millers, traders, and retailers.
When asked if the retail price of sugar can be lowered to last year’s price of P50 to P55 per kilo, Evangelista replied, “Sa ngayon, medyo malabo kasi tumaas din ang cost of production. Alam po natin ang abono ay tumaas. Pagdating naman sa milling, sabi nga po ng SRA, tumaas din po ang cost diyan kasi tumaas din ang krudo. So ang atin pong titingnan ay paano naman po natin mabababa ng at least P85.”
(For now, that might not happen because the cost of production has also gone up. We also know that the price of fertilizer increased. When it comes to milling, the SRA said the cost has also gone up due to the rising price of crude oil. So we are looking at how we can lower the price of sugar to at least P85 per kilo.)
Sugar Regulatory Board member Pablo Luis Azcona added that they will have to determine if the sugar being sold now is already part of the imported stock.
“As to why the prices at the retail have not gone down yet, we are actually trying to get it surveyed to find out if the sugar na binebenta nila sa (that they are selling in) retail market is already coming from the arrivals natin ng imported or still the old stock na tinago nila (that they hoarded) which was bought at a high price. So that’s the thing that we need to investigate,” Azcona said.
Azcona also said they are now in the final stages of the guidelines for the release to the market of 4,000 tons of smuggled sugar this month or May at the latest.
“We’re talking about 4,000 tons. So that is roughly 4 million kilos. So if we sell it at 1 kilo packaging, the challenge is how to repack it and who will repack it. So more or less ang problema natin ngayon sa DA and SRA is basically 'yung logistics side,” Azcona added.
The sugar will be sold in Kadiwa outlets at P70 per kilo.
“We really want to lower the retail price so if we get more sugar, then we can also talk about palengke-size wholesale na po. Because before, we put a 3-kilo limit on the Kadiwa sugar. So I think this time we might not put a limit depending on the volume of sugar that comes in," Azcona said.
The money from the sale of the smuggled sugar will be remitted to the National Treasury.
“Yung actual default noon is to the National Treasury. As a sugar farmer, I’ve been requesting Asec Kristine (Evangelista) if we can find a way sana to get the money to assist the affected farmers. Because if there’s smuggled sugar na papasok, 'yung effect nito is sa sugar farmer din po. However, that might be a hard hurdle to conquer,” Azcona explained.
Before the seized smuggled sugar is sold at Kadiwa outlets, these will have to be tested for food safety. —KG, GMA Integrated News