The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry is asking the government to ensure the country’s stable supply and prices of sugar to caution against possible inflationary increases in food and other basic commodities.
In a letter to Private Sector Advisory Council strategic convenor Sabin Aboitiz, PCCI president George T. Barcelon is seeking an audience with the advisory council to discuss the concerns, particularly of the domestic food manufacturing and processing industry on the high cost of sugar and how it puts them at a disadvantage.
“We are calling on our government to assure our food manufacturing industry that there is enough and sufficient supply of sugar at reasonable cost to be competitive with our neighbors in ASEAN,” said Barcelon adding that sugar is an important component in food manufacturing and processing.
He said the industry was requesting an allocation exclusively as input in food production so that local food manufacturers can compete with ASEAN counterparts.
The prevailing world market price of sugar ranges only from P32.00 to P35.00 a kilogram (kg) compared to our local cost which ranges from P85.00 to P115 per kilo/kg.
Barcelon said: “Government is cognizant of shortages from local sugar millers and thus allowed limited importation. The lower cost of sugar will help mitigate inflation when enough quantities are allocated for local food and beverage sectors.
“The employment and economic activities are crucial for our country and her citizens.”
The PCCI, through its agriculture and fishery committee, has been urging the government to allow small food processors and manufacturers to import refined sugar at 10,000 bags of 50 kilos per bag monthly since 2015.
Last month, the Sugar Regulatory Administration said it planned to sell confiscated smuggled sugar in Kadiwa stalls starting April SRA board member Pablo Luis Azcona said there were certain details the agency was fixing up, where the funds will go, “small details, something like that. And then after that, hopefully by April, it’s a go.”
An initial 4,000 metric tons of sugar was to be sold this month, he said.
Phytosanitary permits are not a problem, he noted, as all sugar products, seized or legal, undergo a check for quality assurance.
President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. has approved selling seized smuggled sugar, which could be given to government agencies as “donation”, the Presidential Communications Office recently said.
The SRA expects sugar prices to go down to P70 per kilo following the approval to import 440,000 metric tons of the sweetener, said Azcona.
He said some 100,000 metric tons of sugar imports have arrived, with 16,000 metric tons already released and converted from reserve to domestic use.
The SRA is still waiting for approval of their request for the use reclassification of 24,500 metric tons, he said.
The regulator earlier said the imports would augment the local supply of sugar and curb rising prices.