Senate urged to probe high sugar prices

Published by rudy Date posted on April 28, 2019

by Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) – Apr 28, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — The local sugar industry is seeking the Senate’s help to investigate the high prices of the commodity after the Department of Trade and Industry failed to look into the situation.

In a letter to Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) has requested the Upper House to initiate and conduct an investigation in aid of legislation into the matter.

“Time and again, we have asked the Department of Trade and Industry to look into possible violations, exercise its mandate and ensure that consumers are protected,” said Emilio Yulo, SRA board member for the planters side.

“However, instead of looking into these concerns and identifying the underlying reasons for the high prices of sugar, the DTI has in fact been one in calling for the liberalization of the sugar industry without first conducting an investigation on these allegations,” he added.

The SRA has been receiving complaints of high retail prices of sugar at P60 per kilogram or double the price at which farmers are paid at mill gate which have been steady at P1,450 to P1,500 per 50 kilo-bag.

“We see no fundamental reason for these elevated prices considering also that our warehouses are full to the brim. This is not only unconscionable but also already bordering on the criminal, especially when there is profiteering involved and outright manipulation of the market,” said Roland Beltran, SRA board member for the millers.

“It is our fear that this manipulation will be used by unscrupulous individuals and self-interest groups to justify the unbridled sugar importation at the expense of our sugar farmers,” he added.

Sugar workers in Negros Occidental, the country’s biggest sugar producer, will conduct a protest on Labor Day against the reported hike in retail prices of sugar which they claimed is a ploy to justify the proposal to liberalize sugar importation.

The Save the Sugar Industry Movement (Save SIM) has lashed at Trade chief Ramon Lopez for blaming the Department of Agriculture in its failure to regulate retail prices of domestic sugar.

“For him to put the blame on DA now just shows how detached our government agencies are in solving problems that affect not only the public consumers but particularly the small farmers and sugar producers who are incorrectly being blamed for the high prices of retail sugar,” said Save SIM lead convenor Wennie Sancho.

“They should get their acts together because it is becoming clearer that some sectors are profiteering from this and we believe they are being egged on by other forces who are trying to find a reason to justify importation,” he said.

The SRA maintained that there is no reason for the prices of the commodity to shoot up as the current stock balance is at an all time-high of 1.1 million metric tons or 44 percent higher than the previous year.

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