February 24, 2024

The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) has stopped the release of 150,000 metric tons (MT) of imported sugar to the market to protect the interests of local sugarcane millers and farmers in the country.

“After due discussion and deliberation and upon motion duly seconded, resolves as it is hereby resolved to lift the deadline set for importers under Sugar Order 7, s. 2022-2023 to reclassify, distribute, and dispose imported refined sugar until further notice,” the SRA said in Resolution 2023-159 dated Sept. 26, but was made public on Oct. 12.

Sugar Order 7, s. 2022-2023 authorized the importation of 150,000 MT of refined sugar that arrived in the Philippines on Sept. 15, and which shall be classified as “C” (Reserve Sugar) subject to future disposition or reclassification, as SRA deems necessary.

“To maintain a reasonable volume of sugar available for domestic use, protect the interests of the farmers and millers, and sustain a reasonable farmgate price of raw sugar of about P3,000 per bag, the Sugar Board deemed it necessary to hold in abeyance all applications of conversion and maintain the classification of all imported sugar as ‘Reserved,’” it said.

The resolution also said the deadline for the 30-day conversion and disposition of imported refined sugar required under Sugar Order 7 has been lifted.

Under Sugar Order 7, eligible importers were given one month, or not later than Oct. 15, from the actual arrival of shipment and reclassification to completely distribute their allocations and submit to SRA within 30 calendar days thereafter a written proof of compliance with the actual distribution.

“Despite the fact that the average retail price of sugar remains the same, the average farmgate price of raw sugar, which hovered between P2,500 and P2,750 per bag during the first two weeks of CY 2023-2024 continues to go down, to the detriment of the sugar farmers, allegedly by reason of oversupply,” the SRA said.

Executive Order (EO) 18, dated May 28, 1986, granted the SRA the power to establish and maintain a balanced relationship between sugar production and supply and to maintain marketing conditions that would ensure stabilized prices at levels reasonably profitable to the producers and fair to consumers.

Section 8 of Republic Act 10659 or the Sugarcane Industry Development Act of 2015 also affirms the mandate of the SRA to regulate the supply of sugar in the country, in addition to its powers and functions under EO 18 and establish a supply chain monitoring system. – PNA