Under Republic Act 7581 or the Price Act, monitoring and ensuring sugar affordability is under the responsibility of the DA.
Edd Gumban
DTI says sugar supply, price regulation not its mandate
Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) - April 24, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) yesterday stressed it has no power to manage supply and regulate the price of sugar amid claims made by Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) board members that the  agency has failed to do its job. 

“Much as we would want to manage the supply and regulate the price of sugar to ensure its availability and affordability to consumers, the law does not authorize DTI to perform such function.  Sugar is a basic commodity under the responsibility and jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture (DA),” Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said in a statement yesterday. 

Under Republic Act 7581 or the Price Act, monitoring and ensuring sugar affordability is under the responsibility of the DA. 

Lopez issued the statement as some SRA board members were reported to have said the DTI is not doing its job to monitor and ensure sugar prices are not manipulated by retailers and wholesalers.

“We would like to clear once and for all that the DTI can regulate the retail price of sugar in the market only if we are given authority to do so by the DA or the SRA.  Without this authority, DTI can only monitor its supply and availability.  The SRA, as an agency directly supervised by the agriculture department, should know this very well. We thus strongly advise them to take caution in making pronouncements and ensure its accuracy. We assure the consumers that our agency remains faithful to our true mandate.  We have success in managing prices for manufactured products that are in the list of basic necessities and prime commodities, even during the inflationary months last year, because these are under the mandate of DTI,” Lopez said. 

While sugar is under the jurisdiction of the DA, the DTI is helping monitor prices of sugar and other agricultural goods in retail markets in line with President Duterte’s directive last year. 

In July last year, the DTI also made a recommendation to the DA and SRA to set the suggested retail price (SRP) on refined sugar at P50 per kilo.

To date, the SRA has yet to set the SRP for sugar. 

Even as no SRP has been set for sugar, the DTI continues to monitor prices and issue letters of inquiry to retailers found to be selling sugar at more than P50 per kilo.

In August last year, the DTI also launched the Presyong Risonable Dapat (PRD) Program which allowed retailers to directly import sugar and sell such to consumers at prices not higher than P45 and P50 per kilo for brown and white sugar, respectively.

Consumers can purchase the affordable sugar variants at Robinson’s Supermarket and SM Supermarket branches nationwide. 

Puregold Price Club Inc., meanwhile, is in the process of sourcing sugar for its house brand which would be made available to consumers at P50 per kilo soon. 

“With offices and monitors stationed in all regions and provinces of the country, the DTI is highly capable and equipped in the area of price monitoring. Due to the volatility of prices of agricultural goods, it is necessary for the government to do a close watch on this. The DTI is most willing to complement DA´s manpower to include monitoring of sugar among the products under our mandate, as we have already included chicken and other agricultural products, all for the protection of our consumers,” Ruth Castelo, undersecretary for DTI Consumer Protection Group, said. 

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