By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) head Pablo Luis Azcona said yesterday there is no apparent need to import sugar at the moment based on the current demand figures.
Azcona’s statements came amid concerns over the continued drop in the price of mill gate sugar over the past few weeks.
According to Azcona, the SRA will be able to figure out the final demand numbers after the sugar milling season.
“In the meantime, we are still milling. We have ample buffer stock, we have ample supply, [but the] demand is lower than expected, so there is no need to do so at the moment,” Azcona said.
He added that the drop in farm gate prices is based on market forces, as he has always said that if there is an oversupply of sugar, retail prices should also drop.
“How come it is not dropping? Only the people in the trading side could explain it,” Azcona said.
He said that they have assured consumers of a stable sugar supply, especially this month.
The SRA head added that the importation programs are all based on available numbers.
“So if you look at Sugar Order No. 6 issued in February [of this year], if you look at our January numbers, we really need to import,” Azcona said.
“We were supposedly running short, so we needed to import,” he added.
Azcona said he has recently met with sugar traders, as they were unable to explain why they are always claiming that the market is “weak” even if there is an oversupply or undersupply of sugar.
“Maskin pila ang presyo i-drop mo, wala gid ya,” Azcona pointed out.
He said he has talked with members of the United Sugar Producers Federation (Unifed), wherein they reported that sugar prices in Bukidnon and Negros declined to P2,300 and P2,500, respectively, while retail prices remain the same.
Azcona said Unifed wants intervention as they suspect that somebody is manipulating the trade, either the price or demand is low.
“As an intervention that the government has actually thought, ginaplano ni namon lawig na. Nag-timing ang pangayo bulig sang Unifed, but the government is looking at the idea of, once again, purchasing sugar like what we did a long time ago with NFA [National Food Authority], nga masulod sila and directly buy sugar from the farmers in an effort to boost the price,” Azcona said.
He added that they are now working on the legalities, including how the agencies could utilize the sugar they buy./DGB, WDJ