NEDA: Sugar importation should be allowed if local produce is not enough

Published August 17, 2022, 4:21 PM

by Chino S. Leyco

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said importation should be allowed when local sugar manufacturers are not producing enough to keep up with demand.

On the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines (EJAP) forum on Wednesday, Aug. 17, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan explained that demand for sugar is quite elastic, meaning it grows as the economy expands.

“The question is, can production catch up with that?” Balisacan pointed out.

On Tuesday, Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines Inc., Pepsi-Cola Products Philippines Inc., and ARC Refreshments Corp. said that “our industry is facing a shortage of premium refined sugar – a key ingredient in many of our products.”

Balisacan said the scarcity of sugar in the domestic market was driven by renewed demand fueled by economic recovery.

“You can imagine the increases in the demand for softdrinks, for food—the requirements of the industry—and even households have increased and at the same time,” Balisacan said.

“The thing is, the supply has to grow, the local production has to grow, if it cannot grow, imports should be allowed, otherwise prices will continue to skyrocket,” he added.

Amid the supply issues, Baliscan said the government is now crafting a strategy to address the problem.

“We are preparing some paper or a strategy in addressing this kind of issue. We are now crafting what needs to be done,” he said.

Earlier, President Marcos Jr. revealed that he met with members of the Philippine Chamber of Food Manufacturers Inc. to tackle concerns over the sugar supply in the country.

“I think we need to see what the production potential of our sugar industry vis-a-vis the demand… We need to sit down. Can they increase hectarage? Can they raise productivity, yield per hectare? What are their plans that will give us confidence that productivity is going to rise?” Balisacan said.

To recall, President Marcos aborted move to import 300,000 metric tons of sugar.

The chief executive’s action has compelled Agriculture Undersecretary Leocadio Sebastian, who signed the order on President Marcos’ behalf, to resign.