Marcos rejects plan to import 300,000 tons of sugar amid confusion

·Senior Editor
·3 min read
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. scrapped a proposal to import 300,000 metric tonnes of sugar to address the country's sugar shortage. (PHOTO: Getty Images)
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. scrapped a proposal to import 300,000 metric tonnes of sugar to address the country's sugar shortage. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

A plan to import 300,000 metric tons (MT) of sugar, in order to address the tight sugar supply and skyrocketing prices, has been scrapped by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

The move came amid initial confusion over the commander-in-chief's intentions, according to The Philippine Star.

Sugar Order No. 4 (SO4), which called for the importation, was posted on the Sugar Regulatory Administration’s (SRA) website on Wednesday morning (August 10) but was removed hours later.

Marcos' press secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles then said in a statement that Marcos, who chairs the SRA, had rejected the plan "in no uncertain terms".

Addressing the sugar shortage

SO4 was signed by Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian for Marcos, SRA administrator and vice chairman Hermenegildo Serafica, and SRA members Roland Beltran and Gerardo Valderamma Jr.

Serafica earlier said importing sugar was the only solution, while Beltran, who represents the milling sector, stressed the deflated buffer stock and the spiralling prices of sugar.

Agriculture Undersecretary Kristine Evangelista has also said that the country needs to import as much as 300,000 MT of sugar to make up for the shortfall caused by Typhoon Odette, which hit the country in December 2021.

Last February, the SRA implemented SO3, a sugar importation program for 200,000 MT of refined sugar. This was initially stalled by temporary restraining orders (TROs) issued by two regional trial courts in Negros Occidental as sought by some sugar groups.

The SRA estimates that by the end of August, the country’s raw sugar balance would be around -35,231 MT and its refined sugar balance -20,748.65 MT.

This is far lower than the 228,690 MT “B” raw sugar balance and 195,000 MT refined sugar balance from the previous crop year.

Sugar prices spiking

Due to the tightening of supply, the wholesale price of raw sugar and refined sugar reached P3,250 and P4,400 per 50-kilogram bag respectively as of July 31, based on data from SRA’s monitoring unit.

SRA data also showed that prevailing retail prices of raw and refined sugar breached P90 per kilogram in public wet markets, both higher than the suggested retail prices for the commodities.

In its final crop estimate, the SRA has projected raw sugar production to drop by 16 per cent to 1.8 million MT this crop year, from 2.143 million MT in the past season.

This has led to complaints from sugar retailers and businesses producing products containing sugar about the unavailability of sugar in the market.

The SRA added that imported raw sugar for consumption should arrive in the country no later than October 15 while raw sugar for tolling into refined should arrive on or before November 30.

Steven Cua, president of the Philippine Amalgamated Supermarkets Association, also warned in an interview last week that products such as sweetened beverages and powdered drinks will be affected by the spike in sugar prices.