Gov’t not importing sugar at this time, SRA assures

SRA Administrator Pablo Luis Azcona* 

Administrator Pablo Luis Azcona of the Sugar Regulatory Administration assured on Sunday, June 2, that the government has no intention of importing sugar now as the country currently has ample supply. 

Azcona told DIGICAST NEGROS that he agrees with the statement of the Philippine Sugar Millers Association (PSMA) that there is no need to import sugar at this time. 

Importation will take place if the country only has three months’ supply of sugar left, which  is the  established trigger, Azcona said. 

It would take about a month to import and government has always maintained that we need a two-month buffer, he said. 

 “We will only import, if we need to import,” he stressed. 

“At the moment we don’t need to talk about importation”, Azcona said. 

Azcona also denied the claim of the Sugar Council of a sudden increase of withdrawals of imported sugar and a decrease for local sugar. 

That is not true because the ratio of withdrawals has been about 67 percent local to 33 percent imported, he said. 

The withdrawals do not actually affect their farmer members as they are done selling their sugar, he said.

“This only affects the traders who are holding local refined sugar, which is beyond any sugar farmer organization,” Azcona said. 

Azcona also said that what the Sugar Council is also ignoring is that the amount of imported refined sugar stock in the country now is 34.21 percent lower than last year.

Azcona said he personally spoke to Jesus Barrera, PSMA Executive Director, and he confirmed that the main point of PSMA is not to import now, as milling has just ended and we have ample stocks at the moment.  

The PSMA press statement came after a meeting in the SRA office “where we discussed that we have ample stock as of end of May”, Azcona said. 

“As for the Sugar Council, the SRA has not received any letter or communication from them.  They have purposely bypassed SRA by claiming to have communicated only with DA Secretary (Francisco) Laurel and Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin,” he said. 

In the recent meeting of the Private Sector Advisory Council-Agri Sector Group of the President, it was suggested that a trigger point should be established for importation and followed to avoid a shortage that could lead to a rise in retail prices, and at the same time to protect the five million people dependent on the sugar industry, including our farmers, 85 percent of whom are agrarian reform beneficiaries, Azcona said.* 

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