The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) is looking into the possibility of price manipulation amid the drop in the farm gate prices of locally-produced sugar.
“We are actually looking into the angle of who manipulated the numbers or did we experience a ‘fake need,’” SRA Administrator Pablo Luis Azcona told reporters in a press briefing in Negros Occidental’s La Carlota City.
The SRA issued Resolution 2023-159, dated September 26, effectively holding the release of 150,000 metric tons of imported refined sugar under Sugar Order No. 7, series of 2022-2023 in a bid to sustain a reasonable farm gate price of raw sugar of about P3,000 per bag.
This, after the average price of raw sugar fell between P2,500 and P2,750 per bag during the first two weeks of the crop year 2023-2024 and “continues to go down, to the detriment of the sugar farmers, allegedly by reason of oversupply.”
The SRA chief noted that although farm gate prices are dropping, retail prices are maintained.
Retail prices of refined sugar range from P85 to P100 per kilo in Metro Manila as of September 29.
“For me, that is alarming because we are hurting the farmers and the consumers,” Azcona said.
“The significant drop in farm gate prices was triggered by the speculation that reserved sugars will be released,” he said, adding that the latest SRA directive was meant to “regulate supply and keep it as buffer as initially planned.”
The SRA chief said the agency ordered the inspection of all warehouses “holding on to reserve sugar to make sure they are still there.”
“We have not found any discrepancy so far. The rest is, we might think of inspecting the balances on the other warehouses holding on to domestic sugar so we can see if the numbers are actually accurate,” Azcona said. (GMA Integrated News)