December 3, 2022
The Philippine Star | https://bit.ly/3iQrxWE
MANILA, Philippines — Consumers are wondering why prices of refined white sugar remain high at P90 to over P100 a kilo despite the arrival of 150,000 metric tons of imported sugar and the start of the harvest and milling season.
An official of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said Thursday that the country may see significantly lower sugar prices only starting in the first quarter of 2023.
“We received a report from the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) and they said prices will begin going down or decreasing in the early part of next year,” DTI Consumer Protection Group Undersecretary Ruth Castelo told “The Chiefs” on Cignal TV’s One News.
Castelo said the SRA, during the National Price Coordinating Council (NPCC) meeting last Thursday, reported that about 20 sugar miller associations have already resumed operations.?“A lot of them have returned to operations. That’s why it’s faster to process the harvest,” Castelo, speaking partly in Filipino, said. “That is also one of the reasons the SRA is saying that prices of sugar will begin to go down in the first quarter of next year.”?The SRA reported that as of November 2022, the prevailing prices of retail sugar by the kilo in groceries and supermarkets in the National Capital Region (NCR) are P86 for raw sugar, P87 for washed sugar and P106 for refined sugar.
“Right now, if it’s any consolation, we still have a P70 per kilo of sugar in Robinsons, SM and Puregold supermarkets, the chains that have made a commitment to the President,” Castelo said.
In August, Robinsons Supermarket agreed to sell one million kilos of sugar at P70 a kilo while SM Supermarket committed to sell its inventory also at P70. The same goes for Puregold Supermarket, which committed one million kilos of sugar.
Meanwhile, the DTI said Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual convened the NPCC last Thursday with the aim of stabilizing market prices of basic necessities and prime commodities (BNPCs) and establishing safeguards against unjustified price increases.
Republic Act No. 7581 (Price Act) was formulated to protect consumers by stabilizing the prices of BNPCs, as well as prescribing safeguards against unjustified price increases in emergency situations and similar circumstances. The NPCC was established by the Price Act, and headed by the DTI secretary.
Pascual emphasized that external factors drive the increasing prices of goods.
“The current global developments such as the ongoing war in Eastern Europe, renewed COVID-19 lockdowns in China and the Federal Reserve’s rate hike heavily affected prices of goods across the globe and escalated inflation. We have convened the Council to gather updates on the country’s price and supply situations so we can also implement initiatives to possibly temper price hikes,” Pascual said.
He expressed support for the implementation of the National Information Network (NIN), which will provide critical information on the price and volume of food production, a unified registry of farmers and fisherfolk and geo tagging of production areas, among others.
The information provided will serve as basis for strategic planning including industry response or production decisions and budget allocation.
During the meeting, the DTI also presented the updates on the Noche Buena (NB) Price Guide and factors for the determination of the Suggested Retail Price (SRP) of BNPCs.
“The prices of NB products are adjusted due to the increase in the prices of both local and imported raw materials, the high cost of packaging materials, freight cost and the depreciation of the Philippine peso against the US dollar,” the DTI said.
The trade chief reminded that a whole-of-society approach is needed to manage the current domestic market situation.?He called on local governments to activate their respective Local Price Coordinating Councils, which are expected to manage regular monitoring of prices to recommend steps to correct unwarranted price increases and supply shortage.