SRA: manipulation behind rumors of higher sugar prices

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sugar wet market
There is no reason for sugar prices to go up since the sugar stock balance is at an all-time high... -- SRA Administrator Hermenegildo R. Serafica. -- BW FILE PHOTO

SUGAR prices at millgate level have been steady over nearly half a year, and rumors of higher prices might represent an attempt to manipulate the market, the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) said.

SRA Administrator Hermenegildo R. Serafica said in a statement that prices at millgate have ranged between P1,450 and P1,550 in the last five months.

“Those who are spreading rumors of sugar prices increasing are trying to manipulate the market so they can increase their profits at the expense of the consumers and producers,” he said.

Mr. Serafica said the inventory of imported sugar is over 133,500 metric tons (MT).

“There is no reason for sugar prices to go up since the sugar stock balance is at an all-time high of over 1.1 million metric tons that is 143% of last year’s stock balance during the same period,” Mr. Serafica said.

Mr. Serafica added: “Millgate prices have been holding steady between P1,450–P1,550 for the past five months. In fact, this week’s average millgate price is P1,454. This is already on the low side compared to sugar prices in the past five years.”

Earlier, former Budget Secretary and now governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Benjamin E. Diokno backed the liberalization of sugar imports.

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) backed open importation of sugar to bring down food prices.

According to Mr. Serafica, some importers are currently renting additional warehouse space as the slow pace of withdrawals is filling up available space.

“There has been little withdrawal… such that all of their warehouses are full and most of them are preparing additional space for storage,” Mr. Serafica said.

“Some have rented additional warehouses while some have repurposed their other buildings such as basketball courts to hold sugar,” he added. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio