The Sugar Regulator Administration (SRA) warned unscrupulous traders and speculators against manipulating sugar prices or smuggling in cheap alternatives to take advantage of a temporary delay in production, saying it will not hesitate to take punitive action against such practices.
SRA Administrator Ma. Regina Bautista-Martin said the regulator is closely monitoring sugar production and withdrawals, including shipments and sugar movements.
A slight increase in domestic withdrawals has been observed, although the amount is still within the SRA projections, Martin said.
“In fact, the country has already shipped out more than 125,000 metric tons of ‘D’ sugar to the world and about 60,000 metric tons to the US (United States),” Martin added.
The SRA chief pointed out that sugar production has been delayed compared with the last crop year. But overall, she said the SRA is confident that its projected production of 2.356 million metric tons this crop year will be achieved, if not surpassed.
“Thus, there is no reason for prices to go up,” she added.
As of April 3, prices of “A” sugar or US quota sugar, hit P825.01, or up 1.28 percent from P814.61 a week earlier; while “B” sugar or domestic sugar prices reached P1,603.34 or 3.36 percent higher than the P1,551.21 recorded the week before; and “D” sugar or world market sugar prices rose 1.68 percent to P826.46 from P812.79 a week earlier.
“I do not want to announce my options for now. This is only a warning. We do not want the prices of retail to increase, and for smuggled or cheaper alternative sweeteners to come in,” Martin said.
“We have already ordered personnel to verify the physical stock in the sugar warehouses. Should prices continue to rise, the SRA is considering taking [appropriate]action within its power to curb the speculation,” Martin said.
The SRA had trimmed down sugar exports to markets other than the US amid rising domestic demand for the sweetener in the wake of Super Typhoon Yolanda.
From 6 percent of the total production, sugar allocated to the world market will be slashed to just 2 percent from the crop year 2013-2014, while sugar for the domestic market will increase from 92 percent to 96 percent of the country’s total production.
But the SRA retained the 2 percent allocation of “A sugar” to meet its US sugar quota in line with its commitment to the World Trade Organization.