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No limit for seized sugar sold at Kadiwa – SRA

Bella Cariaso - The Philippine Star
No limit for seized sugar sold at Kadiwa � SRA
Workers repack different types of sugar at a store in Visayas Avenue Wet and Dry Public Market in Quezon City on February 16, 2023.
STAR / Jesse Bustos

MANILA, Philippines — The government will not set any limit once confiscated sugar starts to be sold at the Kadiwa stores at P70 per kilo, an official of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) said yesterday.

In a chance interview, SRA board member and planters’ representative Pablo Luis Azcona added that aside from Kadiwa, the Department of Agriculture (DA) and SRA target to sell the smuggled sweeteners at different markets in the country.

“Our target is actually not only to sell it at Kadiwa stores, the target is to get the sugar out to the markets so everybody can avail of it,” Azcona said.

He said that initially, at least 4,000 tons or four million kilos of confiscated sugar will be made available at the Kadiwa centers.

“We really want to lower the retail price. Before, we put a three kilo limit on the Kadiwa sugar, so this time, we might not put a limit, depending on the volume of sugar that comes in,” he added.

Aside from the 4,000 tons of seized sugar in Subic, Azcona said another 8,000 tons were also confiscated in Batangas.

“We target to get it out in the market hopefully, by this month. May, the latest, but that all depends on the agencies involved,” Azcona said.

He said the challenge for the DA is repacking the sugar to one-kilo packs.

“We are talking about 4,000 tons, that is roughly four million kilos. If we sell it at one kilo, the challenge is how to repack, who will repack it. More or less, that is the problem of the DA and SRA. Basically, the logistics side. So we will ask the other agencies of the DA to help us in the logistics,” he said.

Azcona said the DA will make sure that the retailers who sell the seized sugar in the market are accredited.

“Based on the talks with the people of Kadiwa, led by Assistant Secretary Kristine Evangelista, you should make sure that the retailers are accredited by Kadiwa so that we can monitor the prices and make sure it gets sold at the proper price,” Azcona noted.

He said that under the law, proceeds of the sale of the confiscated sweeteners will go to the National Treasury.

“As a sugar farmer, I’ve been requesting if we can find a way to get the money to assist the affected farmers because if smuggled sugar enters the country, it will affect the local sugar farmers,” he noted.

Azcona gave assurance that all the seized sugar will undergo the necessary tests “to make sure that it is safe for human consumption” before selling at the Kadiwa centers.

At the same time, Azcona said the SRA has already approved the release of at least 76,000 metric tons (MT) of imported sugar to the local market to help bring down retail prices.

“So far, we have already approved the conversion of 16,000 MT to the market and then 24,000 MT plus, and then there is an application for additional 36,000 MT. The target of Sugar Order (No. 6) is 100,000 MT. As to why the prices at the retail have not gone down yet, we are actually trying to get it surveyed to find out if the sugar sold in the retail market is already coming from the arrivals of the imported or old stocks which were bought at the high price,” he said.

Based on monitoring of the DA on Monday, the retail price of refined sugar ranged between P86 and P110 per kilo; washed sugar, between P82 and P96 per kilo and brown sugar, between P80 and P95 per kilo.

Azcona has said that the government targets to bring down the retail price of refined sugar between P85 and P90 with the release of imported sweeteners.

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