By Azer Parrocha
MANILA – The government has decided to sell confiscated smuggled sugar at affordable prices rather than give them out for free as this could result in an artificial drop in price that may affect small sugar farmers, Malacañang said Tuesday.
In a statement, the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) confirmed that President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. approved the recommendation of the Sugar Regulatory Authority (SRA) to sell confiscated smuggled sugar at PHP70 per kilo in Kadiwa stores.
Sugar is currently priced at around PHP86 to PHP110, based on the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) latest price monitoring report
The PCO said Marcos also directed DA and SRA to coordinate with the Bureau of Customs (BOC) and other agencies to ensure that the confiscated sugar complies with current international standards for safety and quality.
Citing Sec. 1141 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act of 2016, the PCO said seized agricultural products such as confiscated sugar may be donated to another government agency or declared for official use, or sold at a public auction.
They may also be donated to the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
The PCO, however, said doing so would lead prices of sugar to drop and harm the local sugar industry.
“Naisin mang ipamigay ito ng libre direkta sa mga nangangailangan, kailangang isaalang-alang ang industriya ng asukal, kasama ang mga maliliit na magsasaka. Ang pagbigay ng libre ng mga asukal ay mag-reresulta sa artipisyal na pagbagsak ng presyo na ikalulugi ng mga kababayan nating nasa industriya ng asukal (Although we want to give it away for free directly to the needy, one has to consider the sugar industry, including the small farmers. Giving away sugar for free will result in an artificial drop in price that will cost our countrymen in the sugar industry),” the statement read.
The PCO said selling the seized sugar at a lower price was the best option available.
“Ang Kadiwa Center ay programa ng DA. Isa sa mga layunin ng programang ito ay ang makapaghatid sa publiko ng mas abot-kayang mga pangunahing bilihin kumpara sa presyo sa mga karaniwang pamilihan (Kadiwa Center is program of the DA. One of the objectives of this program is to provide the public with more affordable basic goods compared to the price in the common markets),” the PCO said.
Launched in November last year, the Kadiwa ng Pangulo pop-up stores remove middlemen in the movement of agricultural products from farms to consumers, allowing food and agricultural products to be sold at cheaper prices.
Kadiwa stalls were a brainchild of Marcos’ parents, the late former President Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr. and former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos.
Earlier, SRA board member and planters’ representative Pablo Luis Azcona said a total of 12,000 metric tons (MT) of smuggled sugar can be sold at Kadiwa outlets.
Of this number, at least 8,000 tons of sugar were confiscated in Batangas while around 4,000 tons of sugar were seized in Subic. (PNA)