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Gov't extends arrival date of Duterte-era sugar import order

Ramon Royandoyan - Philstar.com
Gov't extends arrival date of Duterte-era sugar import order
Workers organized different kinds of repacked sugar at a store in Quezon City on August 11, 2022.
STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — Months after the sugar supply kerfuffle, the Marcos Jr. administration is extending the arrival date of imported sugar under a Duterte-era order amid logistics delay and concerns from industry stakeholders. 

The Sugar Regulatory Administration, in a memo released on Wednesday, extended the arrival of the sugar imports to October 31. Sugar Order  (SO) No. 3, signed during the previous Duterte administration, cleared the importation of 200,000 metric tons of standard grade and premium grade refined sugar for industrial users. 

In the memo amending SO3, the SRA said they received requests to change the arrival date of the imported sugar due to “vessel delays” and “a lack of availability in container vans being experienced not just regionally but also globally.”

The SRA, tasked with safeguarding the welfare of the local sugar industry, noted there were also requests from industrial users and international sugar traders to move their allocated refined sugar to others in the import order. 

The delay came about since the SRA noted some industrial users told them their sugar imports have arrived but the supply will only be utilized in later months. Likewise, some industrial users ate up their remaining stock and requested for more allocations in the current import order. 

RELATED: Philippines to import 200K MT of raw, refined sugar

As it is, a botched sugar import order dominated public headlines in August, with Marcos-allied senators belabouring the issue in a series of probes. President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. appointed himself the secretary of the agriculture department, which presides over the SRA. 

A “breakdown in communication” between Malacanang, particularly Marcos’ erstwhile executive secretary Vic Rodriguez and some SRA officials, precipitated the mess. The fallout from the probes resulted in the resignation of some SRA officials and Rodriguez stepping down from his post. 

RELATED: Sugar board member resigns amid importation mess | Senate minority: Rodriguez 'not blameless' in sugar mess but no raps recommended

That said, industry and agriculture stakeholders were caught in the crossfire. An import order teetering close to the start of harvest season could prove detrimental for impoverished farmers.  Philippine confectioners and soda makers endured supply shortages, with the local affiliate of Coca-Cola sounding off the need for sugar imports. 

The country’s penchant for anything sweet and savory came under threat in past months since rising sugar prices, coupled with accelerating inflation, has squeezed consumers and businesses alike.  

RELATED: Sugar crunch complicates pandemic recovery for Philippine confectioners | Marcos Jr. to reorganize Sugar Regulatory Administration amid supply crunch

The SRA’s memo also stipulated industrial users could now transfer or sell parts of their import orders to other industrial users. 

The National Economic and Development Authority noted in August that sugar prices rose at a pace of 5% since the start of the year. 

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