THE Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said it is taking on the additional role of monitoring sugar prices, with reports from the monitors expected to be compiled by Friday.
“I expect the report from our monitors all over the country by Aug. 26, Friday,” Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual said on the sidelines of a forum in Makati City late Monday.
Mr. Pascual said that the DTI is assisting with price monitoring on sugar, which is normally the responsibility of the Department of Agriculture under Republic Act No. 7581 or the Price Act.
“In reality, the DTI is not responsible for (monitoring) sugar prices. But we are helping the government. We need to coordinate with each other,” Mr. Pascual said.
The Office of the Press Secretary has announced that the DTI is taking the lead in monitoring the implementation of the agreement reached with large supermarkets to sell sugar at P70 per kilogram (/kg).
The price of the commodity has hit a high of P110/kg due to shortages.
The retailers agreeing to cap sugar prices include Robinsons Supermarket, SM Supermarket, Puregold Supermarket, and S&R Membership Shopping.
Trade Undersecretary Ruth B. Castelo told the BusinessWorld Live program on One News Channel that the shortage appears to be artificial.
“We believe that there is no real shortage of sugar. We still have them available except that the prices have risen up to P100/kg. So, the government is now working on bringing down prices to make it available to all consumers,” Ms. Castelo said.
Ms. Castelo said that the DTI is focusing on making sugar more affordable for consumers.
“There is really nothing we can do except to make sure that sugar prices are down and probably more of a priority for the DTI now to make sugar at a lower price available to consumers instead of the businesses,” Ms. Castelo said.
“We understand that the industries that are hugely impacted by the artificial shortage of sugar are the beverage industry as well as confectionery industry, those who make biscuits and bread. Both are priorities but it’s more important for us that consumers are able to purchase sugar at lower prices,” she added.
Ms. Castelo said that sugar prices can still fall once the government establishes that the shortage is artificial and that prices are being manipulated.
“If it is proven that… that there are a lot of other players who manipulate what’s happening right now, I believe sugar prices can still go down maybe to as low as P60/kg,” Ms. Castelo said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave