Don't let a few sectors hog imported sugar: Lopez

By Kris Crismundo

July 19, 2018, 2:52 pm

MANILA -- Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez said the import of sugar should be to the benefit of all industries that require it, as well as the consuming public in general.

At the two-day Franchise Asia Philippines 2019 International Conference that concludes Thursday, Lopez said manufacturers who need sugar in production “are at (a) disadvantage right now” due to the decline in supply, as reported by the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA).

Lopez said even while the Department of Agriculture (DA) has allowed the import of sugar, the inbound supply was allocated to only a few millers and traders. “The good thing is that the DA has actually allowed already the importation of sugar. That’s the good news. The bad news, of course, is it has been limited to a sector -- the millers, the traders,” he said.

"Why should it be limited to this sector? Why don’t we allow the sugar-using industry to import their requirements so they benefit from the lower cost input, so the industry will be more competitive? That’s an issue,” he added.

The country is importing as much as 200,000 metric tons (MT) of sugar to arrest the increasing prices of the commodity. However, some 100,000 MT of the importation of bottlers’ grade refined sugar, will go directly to bottling firms, such as Coca-Cola FEMSA Philippines and Pepsi-Cola Products Philippines, Inc.

The rest was already allotted to eligible traders, who will in turn sell their supply for direct consumption. “At the end of the day, if you add all these costs, additional fees on any sugar importation, when it gets to retail, even to the supermarkets and the wet market, prices of sugar are still high. You get sugar for what used to be PHP50 (per kg.) to close to PHP60 pesos, even more PHP65 per kilo,” the trade chief said.

“That’s also the reason why some of basic commodities’, as sugar, prices have been really going up. It’s not good for the consumers, it’s not good for the manufacturing industry,” Lopez said. (PNA)