Cartel behind high sugar prices?

BACOLOD City – Senator Cynthia Villar suspects that a cartel could be behind the spike in sugar prices recently.

Villar told reporters here that the situation is bad for sugar farmers.

Villar, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, also wants the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to explain its failure to address what Senator JV Ejercito called the “highly irregular” sugar price increase all over the country, especially in Metro Manila.

She said that the DTI, which has the power to control prices of sugar, seems to be afraid to investigate the situation.

Ejercito earlier said that he will file a resolution calling for a Senate probe on the rising prices of sugar and unmask the people behind it.

Sugar Regulatory Administration board members Emilio Yulo and Roland Beltran had called on the Senate to initiate an investigation into the failure of DTI to act on their call to curb rising retail prices of sugar, despite the fact that millgate prices have remained steady.

Villar is also one of the authors of the Sugarcane Industry Development Act in the Senate

She also noted that there was no increase in prices of agricultural commodities, nor shortage or hike in production cost, and yet prices in the market are increasing.

“This should be explained by DTI,” Villar added.

Villar said the Senate oversight committee will convene to deliberate on the resolution of Ejercito, as the Senate has three weeks left in its regular session after the May 13 election.

“If Malacañang sees the increase in prices of sugar is being abused, it could be used as a reason to liberalize the sugar industry, that would mean the entry of imported sugar, which is bad to local farmers,” Villar said.