The Department of Agriculture (DA) will begin selling cheaper imported sugar at the offices of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) in Quezon City and Bacolod City, once the imports arrive by end-October or early November 2022.
The SRA will sell sugar directly to consumers at a fixed price of P70 per kilogram (kg).
Consumers may also avail of cheaper sugar from Kadiwa rolling stores and Kadiwa on Wheels as part of government efforts to bring reasonably-priced sweetener directly to end-users.
The Bureau of Customs (BOC), meanwhile, said it seized smuggled sugar worth more than P228 million at the Manila International Container Terminal (MICT) in Tondo, Manila.
The seized sugar came without SRA import clearance and was part of the continuing drive by the government against the illegal importation of agricultural products, said BOC acting Commissioner Yogi Filemon Ruiz.
He said the confiscated refined sugar came from Thailand and arrived in the country on Sept. 24 inside 76 container vans.
The SRA has asked each importer to commit 10 percent of their imported sugar allocation to be sold through the DA at P70 a kilo based on the sugar importation policy for the crop year 2022-2023.
The SRA said the initiative is only temporary and will respond to the demand while waiting for sugar mills to start milling.
Once most sugar mills are fully operational, there will be a sufficient supply of affordable sugar, the SRA said.
As of Oct. 14, 2022, SRA has issued clearances to import sugar to 13 international sugar traders with a total volume of 33,772.50 metric tons (MT) of refined sugar that is intended for consumers and end users.
Part of the importation will be distributed or sold to groceries and supermarkets as well as public and wet markets through the Kadiwa Project.
Aside from this the SRA also issued import clearances for 6,625 metric tons that are intended for industrial users.
The seizure of the imported sugar came after the Customs Intelligence and investigation Service-Manila International Container Port (CIIS-MICP) denied the request to amend the manifest changing the consignee’s name.
The BOC said the foiled attempt by the consignee to change its name on Oct. 10 after a request for issuance of an alert order was received at the District Collector’s Office on Oct. 4.
“There is a lot of hocus pocus that these smugglers try to get away with their crimes. We aren’t just here looking for every hoarder and smuggler. We’re here to stop any action that would jeopardize our market prices, the local production, and the impact of these on our workers and consumers,” Ruiz said.
Based on the intelligence report received by the CIIS and the BOC Intelligence Group, both headed by Jeoffrey Tacio, the shipments contained “misdeclared and undeclared” items.
“We also that a Warrant and Seizure Order (WSD) be issued against the shipment “due to the lack of the requisite Clearance for Release of Imported Sugar being issued by the SRA in violation of Sections 117 and 1113 of the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA),” said Tacio.
“There was already initial information about the shipment’s status. What’s good is all of us here acted expeditiously upon receiving this information from high authorities,” he added.