A LABOR group in Negros Occidental is urging the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to impose suggested retail prices (SRPs) on sugar to address the problem on rising retail price of the commodity.
The General Alliance of Workers Associations (Gawa) said this would enable the agency to fulfill its price regulation mandate.
Its secretary general Wennie Sancho said if the mill gate price of sugar is within P1,400 to P1,500 per 50-kilogram bag then the price of retail sugar would only be at P30 per kilo.
“If transport and other costs will be added, the price per kilo would be between P45 to P50 and not P60 which has doubled the mill gate price of sugar,” he added.
Two officials of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) earlier decried the rising price of retail sugar in the local market.
SRA board members Roland Beltran and Emilio Yulo III representing the millers and sugar producers, suspected that the rising price of retail sugar is resulted from manipulation of wholesalers and retailers.
In fact, Yulo already called for an inquiry at the House of Representatives to tackle the complaint of constituents on higher price of retail sugar among public markets and supermarkets.
For the local labor group, the rising prices of sugar in groceries and markets could be another ploy in setting up a scenario to justify the liberalization of the sugar industry.
Gawa said there is a need to look at the traders, wholesalers and retailers who are profiting largely from these at the expense of the sugar industry.
“The producers will be at the receiving end of this problem despite the fact that they are not benefiting from it,” the group said.
“We need to stand up for decency and morality to vehemently oppose any and all attempts to impose sugar import liberalization as a policy,” it added.
As stakeholders of the sugar industry expressed alarmed by this development, Sancho said some groups are making money to play up a scenario to justify the import deregulation scheme.
For the DTI-Negros Occidental, however, sugar is not under the agency’s jurisdiction rather with that of the SRA.
Lea Gonzales, provincial director of DTI-Negros Occidental, said they are giving SRPs to specific products specifically basic and prime commodities.
Basic necessities under DTI’s monitoring include products like soap, milk, coffee, salt, bread, and sardines.
Examples of prime commodities are noodles and all kinds of canned goods except sardines.
Gonzales said prices of these goods should not exceed more than 10 percent of the SRPs.
“We do not have control even over the prices of these basic and prime goods, we can only provide SRPs,” she said, adding that local government units, on the other hand, can declare a price freeze during calamities.