CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- The Agriculture department has directed the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) to put up a weekly suggested retail price (SRP) for sugar.

This is in line with the directive of Secretary Arthur Yap to keep prices of the commodity "within reasonable bounds."

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DA Regional Director Redentor Gatus told Monday that the move came amidst reports that refined sugar prices in some Metro Manila and Central Luzon outlets had reached P60 per kilo, even as a Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) report reflected a prevailing price of P 52 on refined sugar and P44 per kilo on raw or brown sugar.

Gatus insisted that the public should know the SRP for sugar to prevent overpricing by speculators and unscrupulous wholesalers and retailers who are taking advantage of the current sugar situation.

"The SRA has recommended an SRP for refined sugar at the current P52 per kilo until the end of January. Prices are expected to rise to P54 per kilo for the first week of February, reflecting an increase in average mill buying prices to P1,900 per 50-kilo bag of raw sugar," he said.

Gatus said in the National Capital Region, sugar prices are higher, reaching to as high as P60 per kilo for the refined sugar because of the bigger demand for industrial users. He said industrial users like big food companies have high demand for sugar, which is a major component of their products.

The DA along with the DTI, has two ways of stabilizing the sugar prices. The first option involves importing sugar to stabilize supply in the local market but since importing will have tariff and value added tax it will be intended for the industrial users.

The second option is the imposition of price control. The DTI takes the initiative to monitor sugar price even if it is not a regular commodity for DTI.

According to Gatus, DTI does not want the imposition of price control because it might cause hoarding of products by the business sector.

DTI and DA will force business establishments to sell sugar from P45-50 per kilo if prices continue to rise. (IOF)