Press Release
January 25, 2010

Crack down on sugar hoarders - Villar

Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearer Sen. Manny Villar dared the government to crack the whip on hoarders and unscrupulous traders after the price of sugar ballooned to P60 per kilo in several Metro Manila outlets.

Villar asked the government "to go after sugar hoarders and speculators to send a strong message that such activities will not be tolerated."

He said people need assurance that the government will do something to address the problem.

"Rising demand is no justification for huge and sudden increases in the prices of basic commodities like sugar. It smells of speculation and the government should immediately step in and crack the whip," Villar said.

The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) recommends a weekly suggested retail price (SRP) for refined sugar based on monitored mill gate prices. The SRP for refined sugar is P52 per kilo, which is seen to hold until the end of January.

The government has already decided to import up to 150,000 metric tons of sugar at zero tariff through the National Food Authority (NFA).

But Villar said unless the government is able to identify and charge those found engaged in hoarding and price manipulation, the situation could easily deteriorate even with the planned sugar importations.

The NP standard-bearer also chided the government for its lack of foresight in dealing with the rise in demand in sugar, a basic material for downstream sectors like food processing and energy.

"The government, through the Department of Agriculture, should have seen this coming. The DA should have put in the necessary contingencies last year or the year before. We have begun to use biofuels as stipulated by law. We have pump-primed the food processing and export sectors as part of an economic stimulus program. And yet the government allowed the situation to reach this point," Villar said.

"By the SRA's own explanation, demand for sugar is reaching new highs. We should have resorted to importations last year because supply in the world market had already been tightening. This lack of foresight now stares us squarely in the eye," he added.

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