A lawmaker is urging President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., as secretary of the Department of Agriculture, to urgently appoint an administrator to lead the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) in averting the projected supply shortage due to higher demand.,Negros Occidental 5th District Congressman Dino Yulo pointed out that having an actively working regulatory body helps determine the necessary actions to counter any supply crisis.,“A new sugar crop year starts in September, so we need to appoint a new administrator. Basically, that will help classify the national production whether we still have to import sugar or not in case the reserves are enough,” Yulo told reporters during a press chat on Wednesday.,“Our stock balance will be tight at the end of the crop year in August next year. We need a new sugar board to determine if there’s a need to import additional supply,” he added.,Last month, former SRA administrator Hermenigildo Serafica warned that local sugar stocks will be depleted by August as demand outpaces supply due to lower production and delay in import arrivals.,As of 26 June, SRA data showed that the country’s raw sugar supply stood at 2.04 billion MT while demand was at 1.7 billion MT — bringing the physical raw sugar stock to only 224,075 MT. Meanwhile, refined sugar has a total supply of 1.04 billion MT and a demand of 858,073.15 MT. This means the country has only 182,646.20 MT of physical stock of refined sugar.,The SRA said that historically, the country must have carryover stocks of 250,000 MT of raw sugar and around 200,000 MT to 250,000 MT of refined sugar at the end of any crop year.,To recall, the previous SRA board approved Sugar Order 3 (SO3), which allowed for the importation of 200,000 MT of refined sugar composed of both bottlers’ grade and standard refined grade.,The agency likewise planned to import another 350,000 MT of sugar to further boost domestic sugar supply and prevent price spikes, but it did not push through after it received a legal opinion from the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel.,Full support needed,However, Yulo noted that importation alone cannot bring down the spiking retail prices of sugar “because it is earmarked for industrial users.”,“I don’t think this would bring down retail prices. Our problem is the retail market. They were already supposedly included under SO 3 and the more important for us is to resolve the retail market, that’s where the majority of our consumers are. Again we don’t want the sugar industry to be one of the culprits of high inflation,” he said.,According to Yulo, the government should also support bringing down the fertilizer prices to help cut production costs and improve yields.,“The problem with farmers is the high input costs. The three basics of production — high fertilizer costs, crude oil which affects all aspects of production, and third, we cannot blame our laborers if they ask for a corresponding wage,” Yulo said.,“It’s imperative for the sugar industry. If the drive of the admin is food security, they need to bring down fertilizer prices. Since it’s a worldwide problem, we need to put up mechanisms for farmers to be compensated,” he added.
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