Marcos says DA to establish 2-month buffer stock to cut sugar prices

January 24, 2023
Philippine Daily Inquirer|

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) will create a two-month sugar buffer stock to lower prices and avoid shortages in the future, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. announced on Tuesday.

“Again [for] sugar, to cut down speculation, we are guaranteeing a buffer stock of two months. So hindi magkaka-shortage, hindi dapat tataas ang presyo [So there would be no shortage, no price increases],” Marcos said in a  video message.

“We are beginning to rationalize this buying schedule, the importation schedule, so that we will match the crop here of the local producers of sugar. Para hindi naman tayo nagpapasok habang mababa ang presyo ng asukal, so para mag-normalize naman ‘yung presyo [We’ll not import when prices of sugar is low, so we can normalize the prices],” Marcos said.

According to the Presidential Communications Office (PCO), agriculture officials reported in a sectoral meeting in Malacañang that the prevailing retail price of sugar from October 2022 to January 2023 was significantly higher than the price from October 2021 to January 2022.

They also reported that as of January 8, the raw sugar production is at 877,028 metric tons (MT), 22.41 percent higher than last crop year’s (CY) 716,485 MT.

The raw sugar stock balance is at 362,263 MT, which is 0.92% lower than the 365,633 MT of the previous crop year.

During the same period, refined sugar production reached 316,829.15 MT, which is 34% higher than last crop year’s 235,838.45 MT, while domestic use of refined sugar for the same period is at 211,832.90 MT, which is 17.78% lower compared to last CY’s 257,646.75 MT.

Meanwhile, the refined sugar stock balance is 132,384.55 MT, which is 8.68% higher compared to last CY’s 121,813.25 MT.

The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) has also projected a negative sugar-ending inventory by July 2023.

With this, the PCO said the Carbonated Soft Drinks (CSD) industry and major sugar industry stakeholders had requested the implementation of a supplemental sugar importation program based on the forecast that the current sugar inventory would only last until the second quarter of this year.

The CSD industry claims manufacturers would be forced to impose prolonged shutdowns without premium refined domestic sugar to manufacture its products, affecting employees’ livelihoods.

During the meeting, the DA and the SRA recommended importing up to 450,000 MT of sugar, following the instruction of President Marcos to maintain a two-month sugar buffer stock and to bring down retail prices.

In addition, to help lower sugar prices, the DA gave its nod for selling 80,000 bags of seized sugar at KADIWA stores at P70 per kilo upon approval from concerned agencies, such as the finance department and SRA.

Also, a “sugar council,” composed of sugar planters’ federations, was formed to discuss policy recommendations to the government for the sugar industry, the PCO said.