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Marcos Jr. to reorganize Sugar Regulatory Administration amid supply crunch

Ramon Royandoyan - Philstar.com
Marcos Jr. to reorganize Sugar Regulatory Administration amid supply crunch
President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. answers question directed to him by the members of the Palace media during a press briefing at the Heroes Hall in Malacañang, Tuesday, July 5, 2022.
PCOO / Robinson Niñal

MANILA, Philippines — The national government is eyeing a facelift for the Sugar Regulatory Administration but promised it’s keeping coming with a plan to navigate the ongoing sugar shortage. 

As it is, President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. said the reorganization of the government-owned and controlled corporation is set to be decided by the end of the week. Three officials have handed in resignations in the wake of this crisis, notably former SRA administrator Hermenegildo Serafica.

The SRA, an attached agency of the agriculture department, is responsible for promoting the domestic sugar industry’s welfare. 

Serafica’s resignation precipitated after a string of resignations following a botched sugar import order of 300,000 metric tons. One of those that handed in their resignation was Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian, who signed off on the order on behalf of the president. 

That said, the plan to address the crisis is in its infancy. Once the reorganization is out of the way, the Marcos Jr. administration will only start to assess how much inventory is left and whether it needs to import elsewhere.

Sugar Order No. 4 already laid out the problem, as the raw sugar inventory will stand at less than 35,231 metric tons by the end of August. 

Likewise, the controversial order indicated that half of the supposed 300,000 import quota will go to industrial users, while rest will be divided between producers and traders. 

Sugar prices have been rising, according to National Economic and Development Authority Sec. Arsenio Balisacan. Since the start of the year it rose at a pace of 5%.

For its part, NEDA announced they are crafting a strategy to addres the import problem, which requires a careful balancing act hinged on safeguarding interests of industry and agriculture stakeholders. 

Industry group, Philippine Confectionery, Biscuit, Snacks Association (PCBSA), said the price of a 50-kilogram bag of rice now cost double at around P4200 apiece. 

Pres. Marcos floated several ideas already, such as allowing food manufacturers to import on their own. Another suggestion spelled out importing 150,000 metric tons of sugar just as harvest season is about to kickoff, a plan which PCBSA believes will anger local farmers. 

The PCBSA already voiced their concerns as their sector could fumble their recovery from the pandemic.

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