House probe on sugar prices soon

Saturday, December 2, 2017

A congressional inquiry is expected to commence soon on complaints of sugar farmers versus the unabated entry or smuggling of imported alternative sweeteners that are driving down prices of locally produced sugar.

Rep. Alfredo Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3 rd District), who authored the Sugarcane Industry Development Act, yesterday said that he will file a resolution in the House of Representatives, calling for a congressional probe into the matter on Monday.

Benitez said he wants to see “if market forces are at play”, or there are people who are taking advantage of the situation.

Noting that the prices are now at almost a break-even for sugar farmers, Benitez said they will be on the losing end, if it continues.

The Negros Farmworkers and ARB Producers Federation, in a statement earlier, said a severe crisis will hit small agrarian reform beneficiaries if the downward trend is not arrested.

Sugar Regulatory Administration chief Hermenegildo Serafica said earlier that the SRA board has created a committee to investigate the cause of the decline in mill gate sugar prices and, in the meantime, is holding in abeyance any further importation of sugar.

The mill gate price of sugar has dropped to P1,100 per 50 Lkg bag from the P1,800 level during crop year 2013-2014, P1,500 in CY 2014-2015 and P1,300 in CY 2015-2016 for a four-year slump, the SRA said.* GPB