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RP to import 150,000 tons of sugar

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MANILA, Philippines - The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) has agreed to endorse the duty-free importation of between 60,000 to 150,000 tons of raw sugar to arrive from April to July to ease rising domestic sugar prices.

This was announced yesterday by SRA head Rafael Coscolluela as part of the Departments of Agriculture and Trade and Industry’s effort to stem the increase of domestic sugar prices.

Coscolluela said the SRA prefers the importation of raw rather than refined sugar to give some benefit to local millers.

“It makes no sense to bring in refined sugar when we are in a position to do it ourselves,” he said.

He added that the imported sugar is intended first for consumers.

The government, he explained, would ensure the proper distribution of imported sugar so that there would be “no special area benefits.”

The sugar would initially be sourced from ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nation) countries, with the National Food Authority (NFA) doing the importations.

The favorable endorsement for the importation of the duty-free raw sugar would be submitted today to the Cabinet-level meeting of the economic managers as the importations would make use of the Tax Expenditure Fund.

But based on the SRA’s computation in London sugar prices as of Jan. 11 at zero tariff, the imported sugar would still retail at P50.86 per kilo.

If the value-added tax (VAT) is also eliminated, the price of the imported sugar would go down to P46.49 per kilo.

Coscolluela explained that the proposed importation of up to 150,000 tons of raw sugar was based on 13 to 15 percent increase in actual purchase and consumption.

He admitted that the sudden increase might be due to the disappearance of smuggled sugar as world sugar prices have risen.

He also explained that the 150,000 tons for possible importation is based on keeping a 360,000-ton ending balance for crop year 2009-2010 to ensure that there is adequate sugar stock before the next milling season begins in September so that sugar prices do not spike anew. – Marianne Go

ASSOCIATION OF SOUTH EAST ASIAN NATION

COSCOLLUELA

DEPARTMENTS OF AGRICULTURE AND TRADE AND INDUSTRY

IMPORTATION

JAN

MARIANNE GO

NATIONAL FOOD AUTHORITY

RAFAEL COSCOLLUELA

SUGAR

SUGAR REGULATORY ADMINISTRATION

TAX EXPENDITURE FUND

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